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Antitrust: fine of 20 million to Google and Apple

Antitrust: fine of 20 million to Google and Apple

The Antitrust Authority fines Google and Apple by 10 million each. And it does so just three days after another double fine, this time exceeding the total of 200 million, always to the detriment of Apple, as well as Amazon.

But what happened this time? The AGCM, the Competition and Market Authority (better known as Antitrust) has imposed a fine on Google and Apple, for a total of 20 million euros.

The two investigations just closed have led to a fine of 10 million euros for each of the two giants. This figure corresponds to the maximum that can be charged according to current legislation.

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Let’s see the reasons that led to the double fine to Google and Apple. After which we briefly review the story of the very recent double sanction to Amazon and Apple.

The Antitrust fines Google and Apple

The news appeared in a press release published on Friday 26 November on the official website of the Italian Competition Authority.

The Antitrust therefore imposed a fine on Google and Apple of 10 million euros each. That in technical terms it is the maximum legal (ie the maximum that can be imposed) according to the current legislation.

The double fine arises precisely from two distinct violations. Let’s find out which ones.

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The two violations of the Consumer Code

As the AGCM note says, “The Antitrust has ascertained for each company two violations of the Consumer Code, one for lack of information and another for aggressive practices related to the acquisition and use of consumer data for commercial purposes.”

In the following paragraphs of the note, the Antitrust Authority goes into detail on both investigations.

The lack of information

One of the two reasons for the fine to Google and Apple is therefore the lack of information to customers. What do you mean?

Summarizing the text of the press release, we can say that both Google and Apple base part of their economic activity on user profiling, whose data are used for commercial purposes. In short, explains the note, even if the data are not sold to third parties, they are exploited to promote own and third party products.

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So, here is the crux of the matter, “the Authority held that there is a consumption relationship between users and the two operators, even in the absence of a monetary outlay, the consideration of which is represented by the data they sell using Google’s services and from Apple.

The Authority ascertained that both Google and Apple have not provided clear and immediate information on the acquisition and use of user data for commercial purposes “.

More specifically, Google “omits relevant information that the consumer needs to make a conscious decision to accept that the Company collects and uses their personal information for commercial purposes”. While Apple “does not immediately and explicitly provide the user with any indication on the collection and use of his data for commercial purposes.”

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Aggressive practices

The other reason for the fine to Google and Apple lies in the aggressive practices in acquiring data for commercial purposes.

Here the Antitrust Authority immediately distinguishes the operating methods of the two giants.

Google, already in the account creation phase, sets as a preset option the one for which the user accepts the transfer and use of their data for commercial purposes. This means that the automatic transfer and use of data by Google eliminates the possibility of subsequent steps in being able to confirm or not, from time to time, the preset option.

Apple’s policy is even more aggressive. In fact, Tim Cook’s company bases its promotional activity on a method of acquiring consent to the use of data for commercial purposes that does not provide the user with the possibility of a prior and express choice on sharing their data. That is, it is not possible to exercise one’s will on the use of one’s data for commercial purposes. The consumer simply undergoes the transfer of personal information, which Apple may dispose of for its own promotional purposes.

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Google and Apple will appeal

Both companies will appeal against the decision of the Guarantor.

Google said: “We follow fair and transparent practices to provide our users with useful services, as well as provide clear information on their use. We offer people the ability to manage their information with simple tools, including to limit the use of personal data. And we work hard to be fully compliant with consumer protection regulations ”.

And Apple added: “We have been committed to protecting the privacy of our users for a long time and are working hard to design products and features that protect data. We give all users an industry-leading level of transparency and control, so they can choose what information to share, and how it is used ”.

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Second fine in a few days for Apple

For Apple it is the second sanction imposed by the AGCM in a few days.

In fact, on Tuesday 23 November the news of a maxi fine to Amazon and Apple, for a total of 203.2 million euros.due to a 2018 agreement. Agreement that, in violation of competition rules, provided that on Amazon.it the products Apple and Beats (purchased by Apple in 2014) could only be distributed by Amazon, Apple and about twenty retailers selected.