Here’s the latest news from the technology industry, which is coming under increasing global scrutiny from governments and consumers.
Amazon Plans to Raise Fees for Companies in Wake of New Digital Tax in Spain
After Spain’s government levied a new digital tax, Amazon plans to increase fees by 3 percent starting in April for Spanish firms harnessing its platform, Reuters reported. A representative for the eCommerce retailer told Reuters that the company calls for an international approach in lieu of taxes levied by different nations. The news comes as countries worldwide are looking at methods to tax Big Tech on sales made in their economies without a broader consensus as to how to approach their increasing part in trade.
Google Raises Specter of Making Search Inaccessible in Australia
Last week, Google put forward the possibility that it would make its search engine inaccessible in Australia in the event that the government proceeds with proposals to force Big Tech to provide payment for news, CBC reported. “If this version of the code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google search available in Australia,” said Mel Silva, the managing director of Google Australia and New Zealand. Scott Morrison, the prime minister of Australia, responded to the news with the comment: “We don’t respond to threats.”
European Officials: Big Tech Could Face Sanctions if CEOs Don’t Appear at Digital Hearings
After it surfaced that Big Tech CEOs might not participate in an important hearing next month, the European Parliament is mulling sanctions against the firms, the Financial Times reported, citing unnamed sources. MEPs are putting the finishing touches on invites to Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google for a digital hearing to talk about tax and competition.
“The purpose of the planned hearing is to have an exchange with the CEOs of the four globally leading platform companies to learn about their current business models and future concepts as they face the challenges of altering market conditions,” reads a draft of the invite seen by FT. Sources told the outlet that some Big Tech chief executives were mulling sending legal experts on tax and competition.
Germany’s Competition Watchdog Can Now Impose Limits on Big Tech Before Abuse Occurs
The Federal Cartel Office, the competition watchdog in Germany, has attained the capacity to limit the activities of tech companies that are of “overriding importance across markets,” Fortune reported. In one case, a leading online shopping firm won’t have the capacity to preferentially treat its own merchandise over items sold by third-party sellers on its platform or to confuse rivals by not providing them with certain information.
While that kind of activity was already banned in Europe and in other European areas, the German regulator can now put limitations into place prior to the occurrence of abuse instead of once it takes place. The news comes as the continent may be getting ready to scrutinize large tech companies with new regulations regarding illicit content and antitrust.
Google Makes Deal to Pay Media Companies for Content in France
Google has struck a deal with an organization of media companies in France regarding payment for utilizing excerpts of their news, according to a published report. The move comes because of a “neighboring right” for news that was made national law after a pan-EU copyright reform in 2019. An organization that represents approximately 300 political and other media properties in France, L’Alliance de la Presse d’Information Générale, spread the news of the framework agreement on Jan. 21, according to the report.
Morgan Stanley Ups Price Target on Apple
Amid anticipation of a formidable December quarter for Apple, Morgan Stanley has upgraded its Apple price target to $152, AppleInsider reported. “Our recent conversations suggest investors expect Apple to release solid, but not great, December quarter results,” Analyst Katy Huberty said in a note, per AppleInsider. “We disagree and believe that Apple is likely to report all-time record quarterly revenue and earnings.”