New blows to Google: India, US and EU challenge Big Tech monopoly

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The European Union dealt a major blow to Alphabet with the continent’s second-largest court upholding the EU’s record $4.1 billion antitrust fine against Google on Wednesday. Google was sanctioned for allegedly imposing strategic restrictions on Android phone manufacturers to ensure that only its own search engine took advantage.

The EU ruling was almost immediately followed by another in South Korea, where lawmakers imposed combined fines of $71 million on Alphabet and Meta for alleged privacy violations. Probes showed that Google collected and studied user data and tracked their website usage.

While Google and other big tech worldwide are under increasing pressure for their stifling monopolistic practices on multiple fronts, India also appears to be gearing up to tackle the said antitrust and monopolistic behavior of the tech companies. Cookie seems to be crumbling for Google as it starts losing one battle after another in different parts of the world.

In India, a series of actions in “works” led by CCI and MEITY also lead to possible scenarios where unrestricted non-accountability of Big Tech to regulators and also their said antitrust behavior in dealing with Indian news publishers will be seriously challenged. It should be noted that India has consistently tried to ensure that technical feats are not only accountable and accountable for the national laws, but also do not violate the rights of internet users.

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A parliamentary committee has also deliberated on several issues related to Big Tech monopolies. These efforts come against the background of multiple reversals that Alphabet, the owner of search engine giant Google, faced this week in Europe, the US and South Korea.

According to reports, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Minister of State for Electronics and IT (MEITY), is spearheading India’s role and response in the global antitrust action. He has focused hard on making social media platforms more transparent in their operations and, crucially, making them comply with Indian rules and regulations for the greater benefit of internet users.

Brainstorming stricter rules, regulating the misuse of the internet through bots and algorithms, drafting India’s first-ever forthcoming quarterly audit report on the compliance efforts of social media companies – Union Minister Chandrasekhar has his hands full making the internet safer and better fair place for netizens.

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The Competition Committee of India (CCI), the antitrust watchdog under the government of India, is also moving forward with the petition against Google filed by DNPA (Digital News Publishers Association), seeking a fair share of the distribution of advertising revenue earned by Google on its digital platforms for news publishers. These leading media organizations of India under the auspices of DNPA have come together to pitch a call to call on Big Tech like Google to be fair in their relationship with domestic news providers and make revenue sharing more transparent.

In the US, of course, there has been a flurry of developments in recent days to wake up Google. A group of 13 influential companies called on Congress to give the green light to a bill that could significantly reduce the powers of Google and other tech stallholders. Separately, the US Department of Justice has filed a complaint with a federal judge, accusing Google of monopolistic behavior. If that motion escalates into a lawsuit and Google is found guilty, major telecom companies could miss out on huge revenues. That’s because revelations have revealed that Google is allegedly paying Samsung, Apple and other telecom giants billions of dollars to ensure sole dominance of its search engine.

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In line with several ongoing actions worldwide on antitrust issues, the White House has also joined the initiative and recently rolled out six principles aimed at reshaping Big Tech platforms. One of the principles cited by the administration of US President Joe Biden is to remove the special protection and immunity enjoyed by social media companies under Section 230 of the US Communications Decency Act (CDA), especially with regard to the way on which platforms deal with misinformation.

The White House’s move to strip social media companies of legal immunity came after the Indian government repeatedly emphasized in recent times that it will very soon introduce a new and more robust data protection law to restore balance in the digital space. The Indian IT ministry wants to replace the existing IT law with what is called the ‘Digital India Act’. It may include regulations intended to democratize the relationship between Internet users and influential technology companies.

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