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Big Tech Compliance Tracker: Tencent Says Big Tech Needs Greater Oversight; Group Seeks To Block Maryland Online Ad Tax

Here’s the latest news from the technology industry, which is coming under increasing scrutiny from governments and consumers around the world.


Tencent: Big Tech Firms Need Greater Oversight

Tencent Holdings President Martin Lau said further regulations are needed in China to mirror a “new reality.”

Lau’s comments came when the China-based company registered a September quarter that exceeded expectations due to spiking demand for digital games, Nikkei Asia reported.

“As technology companies become bigger and more important to the economy, I would say more regulations to reflect the new reality are needed,” Lau said, according to the report.

The tech company’s formidable performance comes as Chinese authorities seek to exercise more control over the nation’s top digital platforms.


Group Seeks to Block Maryland Online Advertising Tax

Marylanders for Tax Fairness is preparing for a battle in January over the state’s attempt to make a digital advertising tax, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Maryland legislators ratified the tax earlier in 2020, but Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed the levy.

The tax would apply to companies depending on the amount of money they make from ads that Maryland consumers view, with levy ranging from 2.5 percent to 10 percent.

Marylanders for Tax Fairness is beginning its push against the levy two months prior to the time that lawmakers will need to come to a decision on a veto.


Amazon Encounters EU Charges Over Seller Data

Amazon is facing European Union charges over seller data. At issue is the eCommerce retailer’s parallel responsibility to third-party merchants as an online shopping ecosystem and to itself as a competitor on the platform with rival products.

“Data on the activity of third-party sellers should not be used to the benefit of Amazon when it acts as a competitor to these sellers,” Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said in a Tuesday (Nov. 10) statement from the European Commission.

The European Commission told Amazon of its “preliminary view that it has breached EU antitrust rules by distorting competition in online retail markets,” according to the statement.

Amazon said in a statement, per the BBC, “Amazon represents less than 1 percent of the global retail market, and there are larger retailers in every country in which we operate.”

The commission also opened another formal antitrust probe into “possible preferential treatment of Amazon’s own retail offers and those of marketplace sellers that use Amazon’s logistics and delivery services,” per the statement.

US Senator Seeks to Have FTC Chairman Interview Former Facebook Staffers

U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee is calling for Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simons to interview people who previously worked for Facebook as part of its investigation into the social media firm.

Blackburn wrote in a letter to the official, which was posted on her Senate website, that she understood that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sat for a deposition with the FTC over the summer.

“While that is promising, I encourage you to also speak to other Facebook executives and engineers who can reveal the company’s real agenda,” Blackburn wrote. “Many of them fear letting Facebook’s dominance go unchecked can hold dark consequences for competitors and consumers alike.”

India’s Antitrust Watchdog Opens Google Antitrust Case

The antitrust regulator in India has opened a probe into Google for purportedly taking advantage of the leading stance of its app store to market its payment service in the second-biggest web market around the globe, according to reports.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) indicated that it is heading up a deep probe into claims as to if the Android maker showcases Google Pay front and center when an Android phone is being set up and if phone vendors can steer clear of that.

It is also seeking to find if the billing infrastructure of Google Play is created “to the disadvantage of both i.e. apps facilitating payment through UPI, as well as users.”

China Encounters Balancing Act With Big Tech Regulation

Big Tech firms in China are in the focus of the nation’s watchdogs, who are aiming to discern how to make antitrust regulations that can keep the companies in check, CNBC reported.

The technology industry in China has grown mostly unhindered, as has been the case in the United States. Watchdogs have already gotten involved in some areas and are now bolstering those initiatives.

Beijing will have to make sure that its push for new rules balances its drive to transition into a worldwide leader in tech.

“Like Washington, Beijing has a love-hate relationship with its tech champions,” Trivium China Partner Kendra Schaefer said, per CNBC.

Australia Mulls Competition Implications for Consumer Data Right (CDR)

An Australian senate probe into FinTechs headed up by the government will look into how much Big Tech firms might harness the consumer data right (CDR) going forward to create financial services businesses, itnews reported.

A committee said in an issues paper that it would look into requirements for “accredited data recipients, particularly with the potential for big non-bank technology companies to become accredited,” as reported by the outlet.

It noted that “consideration must be given to whether the regulatory framework governing the use of financial data can adequately maintain a level playing field if, for example, a large tech multinational … were to start offering banking or other financial services in Australia.”

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