💶 The European antitrust-privacy regulation combo unsettling Silicon Valley

Are privacy and competition the same thing? European authorities are placing them in the same category, according to The Wall Street Journal. After combining antitrust investigations with data privacy regulations, Europe and Australia are cracking down on major tech companies in a way that could be more harmful to their profits than past efforts.

  • Data = dominance: European countries have taken the view that Facebook, Google, and other massive internet companies would not have their competitive advantages without being able to collect and use people’s data.

  • A legal department merger: So, to better police Big Tech, many countries are fusing separate investigative bodies together. For instance, Margarethe Vestager, the EU’s leading antitrust investigator, has added another role regarding digital regulation. Vestager has already fined Google billions for alleged antitrust issues and is expected to lead a new investigation this year into whether a hefty data supply can create an unfair advantage.   

Germany v. Zuck, Australia v. Sundar Pichai: Germany recently ruled Facebook had to keep separate the data it gathers from its main website from the data it gathers through other products like Instagram and WhatsApp. Regulators called this collection of data an abuse of power.   

And in Australia regulators have gone after Google because they claim its use of location data for targeted advertisements is an antitrust violation. 

The Verdict

Data collection isn’t the only new focus. Authorities are looking into modifying Europe’s 19-year-old E-Commerce Directive through the Digital Services Act. The goal is to make tech companies face more responsibility for hosting illegal or dangerous content, such as child pornography.