Tag Archive | "Google"

Source: CNBC

The Impact of the European Union on American Businesses: Google Fined for Antitrust Violations

Source: CNBC

Source: CNBC

In March, the European Commission fined Google LLC and its parent company, Alphabet Inc. (Google), €1.49 billion (which equals almost $1.7 billion) for abusive online advertising practices that broke the European Union’s (EU) antitrust rules.[1] Google’s practices prevented or limited its rivals from working with companies that were doing business with Google and shielded Google from competitive pressure. This is the third multi-billion dollar penalty the EU has recently laid on Google.[2]

Google’s as Online Search Advertising Brooker

When a consumer conducts a search through a search function that is embedded in another website, the website delivers search results as well as search adverts which appear alongside the search results. Google provides these search adverts through its program AdSense for Search (AdSense) and acts itself as intermediary between the advertisers and the website owners. For years, AdSense contracts gave Google a wide range of control over the adverts.[3]

European Commission

Source: European Commission

EU Antitrust Rules and the European Commission’s Decision

EU antitrust policy is developed from two central rules set out in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).[4] The first rule is article 101 TFEU which prohibits agreements between independent market operators that restrict competition. The second rule is article 102 TFEU which prohibits market participants that hold a dominant position on a given market to abuse that position. The European Commission is empowered to apply these rules and impose fines.[5] It has done so with its decision finding that Google has abused its market dominance by preventing rivals from competing in the online search advertising intermediation market.

Google Antitrust Threads in the US

Although one of the most significant characteristics of the new antitrust approach in the United States has been the increased focus on innovative companies in high-tech industries,[6] the most serious antitrust thread Google faced in the United States was an investigation without penalties conducted in 2013 by the Federal Trade Commission.[7]


The EU is one of the largest partners of the United States,[8] and it appears that the EU is increasingly setting standards that American companies must meet to remain competitive in the global marketplace: As a result of the fines by the European Commission, Google has changed how it does business.[9] Given the tendency of the EU to generally attribute a higher priority to protection of consumer rights and the minimization of free-market distortions resulting from monopolies or unfair trade practices, the increased impact of EU regulations may be welcomed by many consumers.

Julia Robert is the incoming Executive Editor  for the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy and a 2L at the University of Denver – Sturm College of Law.

[1]European Commission Press Release IP/19/1770, Antitrust: Commission fines Google €1.49 billion for abusive practices in online advertising (Mar. 3, 2019).

[2]European Commission Press Release IP/18/4581, Antitrust: Commission fines Google €4.34 billion for illegal practices regarding Android mobile devices to strengthen dominance of Google’s search engine (July 18, 2018); Commission Press Release IP/17/1784, Antitrust: Commission fines Google €2.42 billion for abusing dominance as search engine by giving illegal advantage to own comparison shopping service (June 27, 2017).

[3]For details, see European Commission Press Release IP/19/1770, supra note 1.

[4]Consolidated Version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Oct. 10, 2012, 2012 O.J. (C 326) 47 [hereinafter TFEU].

[5]TFEU, supra note 4 at art. 105.

[6]Geoffrey A. Manne & Joshua D. Wright, Google and the Limits of Antitrust: The Case Against the Case Against Google, 34 Harv. J. L. & Pub. Pol’y 171, 173 (2011).

[7]Federal Trade Commission, Press Release, Google Agrees to Change Its Business Practices to Resolve FTC Competition Concerns In the Markets for Devices Like Smart Phones, Games and Tablets, and in Online Search, https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2013/01/google-agrees-change-its-business-practices-resolve-ftc (Jan. 3, 2013).

[8]Countries and Regions, United States, European Commission, http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/countries/united-states/ (last updated Apr. 15, 2019).

[9]EU Fines Google $1.7 Billion Over ‘Abusive’ Online Ad Strategies, NPR(Mar. 20, 2019, 1:25 PM), https://www.npr.org/2019/03/20/705106450/eu-fines-google-1-7-billion-over-abusive-online-ad-strategies.

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Re-Writing History: The right to be forgotten

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Credit to: http://www.indexoncensorship.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/shutterstock_RTBF_195176492.jpg

Scientific research suggests that the act of forgetting memories fosters a healthy state of mind. The act of forgetting may be more difficult to achieve in a world where internet companies collect and store a broad range of information about their users’ lives and daily activities. Is it fair for individuals to ask everyone else to forget information that they do not want remembered? On May 13th, 2014 the Court of Justice of the European Union ordered Google to delete search results linking to a 1998 auction notice of a Spanish man’s repossessed home. Since the ruling went into effect, Google has received over 225,000 requests for the removal of links. This controversial ruling, labeled the “Right to be Forgotten,” puts into sharp focus the competing interests of global Internet companies and individual Internet users. The rule also raises a debate between the personal appeal in purging the Internet of undesirable information and the danger in creating a system that allows for censorship and the re-writing of history.

The ruling by the Court of Justice has three major holdings. First, the European Union’s 1995 Data Protection Directive applies to search engines because they are controllers of personal data. Second, even though Google Spain’s data-processing servers are located in the United States, the Court of Justice can apply European Union rules to Google Spain because it is located in a European Union Member State and it sells advertising space within that jurisdiction. Third and most importantly, under certain circumstances individuals have the right to request that search engines remove links containing “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” personal information about them.

The European Union is the most aggressive jurisdiction when it comes to protecting personal privacy rights. The “Right to be Forgotten” rule maintains Europe’s position as the champion of personal privacy. Other countries with more balanced privacy regulations are considering whether Internet forgetfulness could benefit their citizens. A Japanese man brought a case in a Tokyo Court because Google did not comply with a request to remove information relating to him from search results. The Hong Kong Court of Appeals will hear a petition from Google on the “Right to be Forgotten” in early 2015. Privacy organizations in Asia are strongly advocating for the “Right to be Forgotten” to apply in Asian countries. Critics warn that establishing such a rule could undermine corporate and political transparency in a region with a history of powerful people that manipulate information flows.

In the United States, the debate around the “Right to be Forgotten” rule has support on both sides of the argument. Critics say that the rule is vague, prone to abuse and amounts to censorship in violation of the First Amendment. On the other hand, eighty-eight percent (88%) of American citizens in a recent survey said that they would support a “Right to be Forgotten” rule. When opposing experts discussed the same argument in front of an American crowd as a part of an Intelligence Squared event, fifty-two percent (52%) of the crowd voted against a “Right to be Forgotten” law. As other countries ponder the merits of the rule, the European Union is pushing for it to apply worldwide and not just on websites for European countries. A worldwide imposition of European privacy standards could result in the rest of the world losing the “Right to Remember.”

The ability of information technologies to collect and store endless amounts of individuals’ personal information raises legitimate concerns regarding surveillance and personal privacy. The “Right to be Forgotten” carries a powerful emotional appeal for many people that wish to leave their past behind. Despite the fact that forgetfulness may have its benefits, our memories of the past have a great deal to do with what we can learn in the future. When individuals request that Google “forgets” information undesirable to them, they re-write the collective story we share as a society. The processes the brain uses to facilitate information recall demonstrate the appropriate way to handle past information. Forgetting is not as easy as flipping a switch, ask anyone who has tried to forget an embarrassing moment from their youth. Instead, forgetting has more to do with the brain’s ability to accumulate enormous amounts of fresh information that crowd out old memories. In a world where every moment is stored forever, the brain teaches us that forgetting may be easier with more information, not less.

Matthew Aeschbacher is a 4LE law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and a staff editor for the Denver Journal of International Law & Policy.

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Sources: BBC, NY Times, Int'l Business Times, Reuters, WSJ, Huffington Post, LA Times, Washington Post, IT World

News Post: Cyber Espionage Continues

Sources: BBC, NY Times, Int'l Business Times, Reuters, WSJ, Huffington Post, LA Times, Washington Post, IT World

Sources: BBC, NY Times, Int'l Business Times, Reuters, WSJ, Huffington Post, LA Times, Washington Post, IT World

On September 20, Japan’s top weapon’s manufacturer, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MIH), confirmed it was the victim of a cyber attack reportedly targeting sensitive data on advanced weaponry and nuclear power plants.  After nearly a month of internal investigation, a media leak persuaded MIH to inform the Japanese government of the attack, which infected servers and desktop computers at multiple MIH facilities with at least eight different viruses.  Although the Japanese government stated that the attack did not succeed in accessing any important information, the Japanese Ministry of Defense ordered Mitsubishi to have its security audited.  A report in one Japanese newspaper said that a Chinese language script was detected in one of the viruses.  However, it remains unclear where the attacks originated. One security company has revealed that MIH’s servers were connected to 14 overseas sites, including China, Hong Kong, the United States, and India.

Japanese investigators have said that they suspect that these attacks were perpetrated by the same Chinese hacking operations that succeeded in penetrating U.S. and military sites earlier this year.  Back in June, Google, Inc. disclosed that unknown hackers had tried to steal the passwords of hundreds of Gmail account holders, including those of senior U.S. government officials and officials in several Asian countries.  Google claims that it was able to trace the attack on its systems to central China.  News of the attack on Google broke only weeks after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security disclosed a data theft at Lockheed Martin, where hackers broke into the Defense Department’s F-35 fighter program.  The attack compromised a system of the advanced fighter jet that is responsible for diagnosing maintenance problems during flight.  A spokesman for the Defense Department said that the impact on the Pentagon was  “minimal” and that the department didn’t “expect any adverse effect.”  Investigators of the Lockheed Martin attack traced the security breach “with a high level of certainty” to Chinese IP addresses and digital fingerprints.

The growing prominence and severity of global cyber attacks has prompted U.S. lawmakers to demand action from the Obama administration.  At a hearing on October 4, Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, accused the Chinese government of engaging in a policy of cyber theft that has reached an “intolerable” level.  Rogers said that the U.S. should establish international rules against stealing corporate secrets through cyber attacks.  “I don’t believe that there is a precedent in history for such a massive and sustained intelligence effort by a government to blatantly steal commercial data and intellectual property,” he said.

The Obama administration’s release of its International Strategy on Cyberspace last May marked a divergence from former U.S. policy resisting international efforts to limit military use of cyberspace.  The document states that the U.S. is committed to working with other nations to reduce threats to computer networks by “oppos[ing] those who would seek to disrupt networks and systems, dissuading and deterring malicious actors, and reserving the right to defend these vital national assets as necessary and appropriate.”  Currently, cyber espionage is treated the same under international law as non-cyber espionage; it is legal.  It will be interesting to see if and how the Obama administration reacts to Congressional pressure on this front.

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University of Denver Sturm College of Law