This is an excerpt from the latest book I am writing, entitled: Wild Wild Web – what the history of the Wild West teaches us about the future of the Digital Society. Comments are welcome.
It’s not all bad news for the Web these days. In a dossier compiled in May for the Washington Post, authors Tony Romm, Craig Timberg and Michael Birnbaum voice their belief that “Europe, not the U.S., is now the most powerful regulator of Silicon Valley“, an impression that is rapidly solidifying.
- In June 2018 the British government imposed a maximum fine of half a million Pounds on Facebook for failing to adequately protect its users’ data, thus allowing Cambridige Analytica to use information about 87 million Facebookers to create voter profiles which they sold to the Trump campaign.
- In 2017, the EU Commission pronounced a penalty of 110 million Euros against Facebook for illegally combining their user data with those of their subsidiary WhatsApp and then lying about it.
- The same year, it was Google’s turn. The search giant was forced to pay a recordbreaking fine of 2.42 billion Euros for abusing its market power to rank its own ads above those of competitors.
- A few months later the EU Commission decreed that Amazon must pay 250 million Euros in back taxes because of an illegal deal they struck with authorities in Luxembourg.
- Again in autumn 2017, the EU Commission took its member state, Ireland, to task for allowing Apple to save an estimated 13 billion Euros through a special tax loophole created for them. Ireland has appealed this sentence to the European High Court.
And it’s not just GAFA who must fear the might of Europeans which, after all, is the world’s second-largest economic zone with some 510 million inhabitants and a GDP of 17 billion Dollars. Uber, for instance, was recently sentenced to fines of 800,000 Euros each in France and Germany. And AirBnB faces a growing spate of legal actions by local authorities from Berlin to Barcelona and Mallorca, where owners are facing still fines if they are caught renting the apartments to tourists and other short-term occupants, given the scarcity of affordable housing in these popular places. Weiterlesen