In an interview published on Re/Code technology website this week,
President Obama accused EU tech companies of being unable to compete with US
tech companies and of colluding with the EU antitrust authorities to set up
unjustified roadblocks designed to protect the EU companies' commercial
Companies are increasingly incorporating whistleblowing and
regulatory complaints into their commercial strategies. More than 70% of cartel
investigations in the EU are triggered by whistleblowers seeking immunity or
leniency. And investigations such as those now being undertaken into Tesco (for
its profits overstatement and its treatment of suppliers), HSBC (in connection
with allegations of facilitating tax avoidance), and Amazon (in connection with
its tax status in the EU), serve to highlight the very significant
costs/commercial damage associated with regulatory interventions.
regards US tech companies, there are two ongoing Google investigations: the
first, launched by the European Commission in November 2010, concerns search
results ranking and advertising arrangements. Google offered remedies to
address these concerns including: higher ranking for rival services in search
results; not copying content from other sites; ending exclusive advertising
arrangements; and removing restrictions on porting advertising campaigns to
other platforms. The Commission seems likely to want more.
investigation was prompted by a complaint from Fairsearch, an organisation whose
17 members include US companies Microsoft and Oracle. The complaint alleges
that Google has abused Android's dominant position in smartphone operating
systems, by giving away the Android mobile operating system to device
manufacturers (a "Trojan Horse") on condition that its applications such as
Google Maps and YouTube are prominently displayed on devices. Android mobile
software is installed on about 70% of new smartphones, making it the dominant
mobile software platform around the world.
There is, of course, also the
EU's "right to be forgotten" rule, which allows people to request that their
personal details are removed from search engine results.