EU move vs Amazon is latest in string of tech crackdowns

International

European Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager wears a protective face mask after addressing a press conference regarding an antitrust case with Amazon at EU headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. (Olivier Hoslet, Pool via AP)

LONDON (AP) — The European Union’s move to charge Amazon over alleged antitrust behavior is the bloc’s latest crackdown on U.S. tech giants. Here’s a look at enforcement actions taken by the EU’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, in recent years.

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AMAZON

November 2020: The EU Commission files charges against Amazon accusing it of using internal data from independent merchants on its platform to unfairly compete against them with its own products. The commission also opens a second investigation into whether the e-commerce giant gives preference to some products and sellers that use its logistics and delivery systems.

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APPLE

June 2020: EU Commission opens two investigations into Apple’s mobile app store and payment platform over concerns its practices distort competition by limiting choice and innovation and keeping prices high.

July 2020: EU court rules Apple doesn’t have to pay back 13 billion euros ($15 billion) in back taxes to Ireland, in a stinging defeat for Vestager, who’s been campaigning for years to root out special tax deals for multinational corporations. The commission is considering whether to appeal.

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FACEBOOK

2019: The EU Commission launches a preliminary investigation into Facebook’s data practices, focusing on how data is gathered, processed, used and monetized including for advertising. Facebook fought the EU’s request for data over fears about disclosing sensitive or personal information. But a judge ordered both sides to find a solution so EU officials are setting up a separate “data room” to analyze the information, Vestager said Tuesday.

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GOOGLE

2020: The EU commission opens in-depth investigation into Google’s plan to buy fitness tracking device maker Fitbit for $2.1 billion, over concerns the deal would entrench its position in the online ad market by expanding the amount of data it can access. It’s also carrying out a preliminary investigation into data practices for advertising purposes.

2019: EU Commission fines Google 1.49 billion euros for freezing out rivals in the online advertising business.

2018: EU Commission fines Google 4.34 billion euros for forcing smartphone makers that use its Android operating system to install Google search and browser apps. In response, Google gives European Android users a choice of browsers and search apps.

2017: EU commission fines Google 2.42 billion euros for unfairly favoring its own online shopping recommendations in its search results and demanded it changes the way it provides search results in Europe. Google is appealing all three cases.

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