Google, Facebook under investigation in UK for abusing market power

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Silicon Valley monoliths Google and Facebook are once again facing government scrutiny over potential abuses of market power, with the UK's Competition and Markets Authority taking aim at the companies in a wide-reaching probe into online advertising platforms.

Google
Source: Wikipedia


Announced on Wednesday, the CMA's investigation, officially called a market study (PDF link), will concentrate specifically on Google and Facebook, both of which hold "leading positions" in the online advertising business, reports The Guardian.

The scope of the probe will assess market power of online platforms in consumer-facing markets, consumer control over data collection practices and competition in the supply of digital advertising in the UK, according to a synopsis.

"The market study will help us further lift the lid on how major online platforms work, especially how they collect and use personal data, how they monetize their content through digital advertising, and what this means for competition," CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said. "The findings from this work will be used to influence the direction of policy and regulation in the digital sector."

The CMA believes that the probe's concerns "might lead to direct consumer harm if firms are able to exploit consumers' attention and data to earn excessive returns in digital advertising." A more competitive market could yield circumstances in which consumers are paid for access to, or are granted better control over, their data.

CMA is operating on a call from Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond to investigate the digital advertising market.

Hammond's assignment is a response to recommendations outlined in an independent report prepared for the UK Treasury by Jason Furman, former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama. In his report, Furman found the market is "dominated by two players and suffers from a lack of transparency."

The CMA is slated to file an interim report, which will include a determination as to whether a market investigation reference is needed, on Jan. 2, 2020. A final report is due on Jul. 2, 2020.

Google and Facebook are poster boys for unscrupulous consumer data collection tactics and have been the target of multiple international investigations.

Most recently, Google in March was fined $1.7 billion by the European Commission for favoring its AdSense platform in search engine adversing, adding to a previous $5 billion fine related to Android app restrictions.

In the U.S., Google faces an antitrust investigation from the Department of Justice. The sweeping probe also includes Facebook, Apple and Twitter.

Facebook is still embroiled in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which saw the data of millions of users fall into the hands of the now-defunct consulting firm. The Federal Trade Commission opened an investigation into Facebook's privacy practices in March 2018, and the social network was bracing for an up to $5 billion fine for potential violations as recently as April.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    rotateleftbyterotateleftbyte Posts: 1,166member
    Good! Throw the book at them.
    There was a report on BBC Radio a little while ago about the increasing number of companies that are banning Smartphones in the workplace because employees were spending far too much time 'on social media' while they were supposed to be working.

    Social media is addictive. No, make that highly addcitive and needs to be treated as such.
    You won't find me on any social media site as I think they are all a total waste of time. All you do is expose your life so that advertisers can try to sell you more tat that you don't need and probably can't afford. Welcome to the machine people!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 10

    You won't find me on any social media site as I think they are all a total waste of time. All you do is expose your life so that advertisers can try to sell you more tat that you don't need and probably can't afford. Welcome to the machine people!
    Posts: 1,100
    nadrielcrowleyhydrogenlkruppbonobobchelinbigtdsdysamoriaelijahg
  • Reply 3 of 10
    AF_HittAF_Hitt Posts: 85member
    Good! Throw the book at them.
    There was a report on BBC Radio a little while ago about the increasing number of companies that are banning Smartphones in the workplace because employees were spending far too much time 'on social media' while they were supposed to be working.

    Social media is addictive. No, make that highly addcitive and needs to be treated as such.
    You won't find me on any social media site as I think they are all a total waste of time. All you do is expose your life so that advertisers can try to sell you more tat that you don't need and probably can't afford. Welcome to the machine people!
    Says the guy with over 1100 posts on a technology enthusiast web site that consistently tries to sell people (primarily) Apple devices that you don’t need and probably can’t afford, AND who’s primary source of revenue is advertising against those users. Look, I’m not judging, I’m here too, posting, but your hypocrisy is pretty funny.
    bonobobbigtds
  • Reply 4 of 10
    rotateleftbyterotateleftbyte Posts: 1,166member
    AF_Hitt said:
    Good! Throw the book at them.
    There was a report on BBC Radio a little while ago about the increasing number of companies that are banning Smartphones in the workplace because employees were spending far too much time 'on social media' while they were supposed to be working.

    Social media is addictive. No, make that highly addcitive and needs to be treated as such.
    You won't find me on any social media site as I think they are all a total waste of time. All you do is expose your life so that advertisers can try to sell you more tat that you don't need and probably can't afford. Welcome to the machine people!
    Says the guy with over 1100 posts on a technology enthusiast web site that consistently tries to sell people (primarily) Apple devices that you don’t need and probably can’t afford, AND who’s primary source of revenue is advertising against those users. Look, I’m not judging, I’m here too, posting, but your hypocrisy is pretty funny.
    No hypocrisy. I'm not on FaceBook, Twitter or and other so called Social Media Site.
    This is a tech blog. Very different IMHO and I only access it on my MacBook not on my phone. I hardly use Safari on my phone.
    If you look at my postings, I'm not an Apple Fanboi. Far from it. My Macbook is from 2015 and my iPhone 7 died last week (dropped too many times) so I upgraded to an iPhone 8. Hardly the action of a Fanboi. In fact, I'll quite happlily go on record as saying that getting rid of TouchID was a huge error on Apple's part.
  • Reply 5 of 10
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,498unconfirmed, member
    AF_Hitt said:
    Good! Throw the book at them.
    There was a report on BBC Radio a little while ago about the increasing number of companies that are banning Smartphones in the workplace because employees were spending far too much time 'on social media' while they were supposed to be working.

    Social media is addictive. No, make that highly addcitive and needs to be treated as such.
    You won't find me on any social media site as I think they are all a total waste of time. All you do is expose your life so that advertisers can try to sell you more tat that you don't need and probably can't afford. Welcome to the machine people!
    Says the guy with over 1100 posts on a technology enthusiast web site that consistently tries to sell people (primarily) Apple devices that you don’t need and probably can’t afford, AND who’s primary source of revenue is advertising against those users. Look, I’m not judging, I’m here too, posting, but your hypocrisy is pretty funny.

    This is "social media"? WTF?
  • Reply 6 of 10
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,367member
    It takes an investigation to know that? 🙈
    AppleExposeddysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 10
    kestralkestral Posts: 260member
    Break them up.
    dysamoriaelijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 10
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 2,280member
    Good. The UK and the USA need to take power back from corporations.
  • Reply 9 of 10
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,095member
    dysamoria said:
    Good. The UK and the USA need to take power back from corporations.
    All the big US techs are under investigation today, and in multiple countries and for multiple reasons. No company is immune, with even Apple seeing several antitrust cases either already active or under consideration, and multiple data privacy investigations being conducted despite the general belief here that they are above all of that. All the money and power these wealthy US corporations are putting on display is attracting unwanted attention. 

    Personally I expect a lot of negative outcomes and reporting over the next couple of years. 
  • Reply 10 of 10
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,367member
    gatorguy said:
    dysamoria said:
    Good. The UK and the USA need to take power back from corporations.
    All the big US techs are under investigation today, and in multiple countries and for multiple reasons. No company is immune, with even Apple seeing several antitrust cases either already active or under consideration, and multiple data privacy investigations being conducted despite the general belief here that they are above all of that. All the money and power these wealthy US corporations are putting on display is attracting unwanted attention. 

    Personally I expect a lot of negative outcomes and reporting over the next couple of years. 
    Good try at deflection but that's false equivalence. Facebook and Google's malfeasance is not even in the same universe as any privacy or monopolistic claims that could be leveled against Apple. 
    tmaywatto_cobra
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