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Home / Business / Is Europe Correcting Antitrust Correction for Surveillance Technologists? – TechCrunch

Is Europe Correcting Antitrust Correction for Surveillance Technologists? – TechCrunch

The Federal Cartel Office's decision to change Facebook this week as it processes users' personal information is a sign that antitrust law may ultimately turn against the platform's power.

A source from the European Commission we talked to, commenting on it personally, describing it as "clearly groundbreaking" and "a big deal", even without Facebook fining it out.

The FCO's ruling instead prohibits the social network from linking user data to various platforms unless it has obtained the consent of the people (nor can it make its services dependent on that consent). Facebook is also prohibited from collecting and linking data from users of third party websites, for example through its tracking pixels and social plugins.

The order is not yet in force, and Facebook is appealing, but should come into effect The social network must be de facto shrunk by locking its data-level platforms.

To keep this order, Facebook would have to ask users to voluntarily commit to collecting data ̵

1; which the company does not do at present

Yes, while Facebook could still manipulate user-requested results, it would do so that EU data protection law continues to be attacked, as its current consent concept is already called into question.

The updated EU data protection framework, The GDPR requires the consent to be accurate, informed and released. This standard supports challenges to Facebook's (still fixed) entrance fee for its social services. To play, you still need to agree to share your personal information so that your attention can be passed on to advertisers. However, legal experts claim that this is neither privacy nor standard.

The only alternative that Facebook offers is to tell users that they can delete their account. Not that this would keep the company from following you in the rest of the mainstream web anyway. The tracking infrastructure of Facebook is also embedded in the broader Internet, so that even non-users receive a profile.

EU data protection authorities are still examining a very large number of DSGVO consents. However, the German FCO said this. Emagazine.credit-suisse.com/app/art…7805 & lang = DE While Facebook 's data gathering research teamed up with data protection authorities, this behavior was labeled as "exploitative abuse". He also considered the social service to be a monopoly on the German market.

So there are two lines of legal action – antitrust and privacy – threatening Facebook's surveillance-based business model (and indeed other Adtech companies) across Europe.

A year ago, the German Antitrust Authority announced an investigation of the online advertising industry, in which it responded to concerns lack of transparency in the market. Her work is by no means done here.

Data Limits

The lack of a conspicuous fine in connection with the German FCO's order against Facebook makes this week's story less of a headline than the recent European Commission cartel penalties – like the record-breaking punishment in US $ 5 billion imposed last summer for anti-competitive behavior in conjunction with the Android platform for mobile phones.

But the decision is probably the same, if not more, because of the structural remedies that are ordered on Facebook. These remedies were compared with an internal decomposition of the company – with the forced internal separation of its numerous platform products at the data level.

This, of course, contradicts the favored career of (ad) platform giants, which has had a long time to demolish modest walls; Merge user data from multiple internal (and indeed external) sources, contrary to the concept of informed consent; and put all these personal (and sensitive) things together to create identity-based profiles to train algorithms that predict (and in part assert, manipulate) individual behavior.

Because if you can predict what a person will do, you can choose which advertising serves to increase the chance that they will click. (Or as Mark Zuckerberg puts it, "Senator, we run ads.")

This means that regulatory intervention that compromises the ability of an ad tech giants to aggregate and process personal data may seem very interesting. Because a Facebook that can not connect data points through its far-reaching social empire or even the mainstream web would not be such a giant in terms of data intelligence. And therefore no supervision supervision.

Each of their platforms would be forced to be a more discrete (and more discrete) kind of business.

Competing against data-sharing platforms with a common owner – rather than a single networked mega-monitoring network – also sounds almost possible. It suggests a playing field which is reset, though not completely balanced.

(While the European Commission has not ordered specific remedies in the case of Android Google itself can introduce "fixes" and […]

In the meantime, just look at where Facebook is heading now A technical unification of the back end of its various social products.

Such a merger would cause even more walls to collapse and platforms that had originally emerged as completely separate products were completely intertwined before being merged into Facebook's empire surveillance-based acquisitions).

Facebook's plan to unify its products into a single company The back-end platform looks very much like an attempt to create technical hurdles for Kartellhammer It's at least harder to imagine starting a business if its several separate P roducts to a single backend that can cross and combine data streams.

Facebook's sudden desire to technically unify its torrent of dominant social networks (Facebook Messenger; Instagram; WhatsApp) is a rising drumbeat of demand for competitive testing by technology giants.

This has been established as market power – and even democracy – for years. Impressive potential – the data giants of monitoring capitalism have come into focus.

Calls to break up tech giants are no longer a suggestive stroke. Regulators are regularly asked if it is time. Margrethe Vestager, head of the European Commission, was when she filed Google's recent massive antitrust fine last summer.

Her answer was that she was not sure if she wanted to dissolve Google, but the right answer means that competitors might be able to make an attempt to emphasize how important legislation is to "transparency and fairness in the relationship between companies and platforms ".

It is interesting, however, that the idea of ​​breaking technology giants is now so well-known as political theater, suggesting that wildly successful consumer technology companies – who have long eaten with brilliant convenience-based marketing claims – are tempted by "free" services sweetly sweet, have lost a large part of their populist appeal, there have been so many scandals.

From terrorist content and hate speech to blandishments, exploitation of children, bullying and abuse. It is also about the question how they regulate their tax affairs.

The public perception of technology giants has grown with a view to the "cost" of their "free" services. The founders have also become the institution. People do not see a new generation of "cuddly capitalists", but a number of multinational companies. highly polished but remote money-making machines that need a little more than they give back to the companies that feed them.

Google's trick to name each android iteration for another sweet treat is an interesting parallel to the (also changing) public perception of sugar, taking health concerns more into account. What does his sick sweet mask do? And after the sugar tax, we now have politicians calling for a social media tax.

This week, the UK's opposition party deputy leader called for the establishment of independent Internet regulation with the power to disrupt tech monopolies

The talk of breaking up well-oiled prosperity-concentration machines is considered a populist election winner. And companies that are always flattered by political leaders and who are looking for PR opportunities are treated as political drummers. They were called upon to organize awkward grilling by hard-grafted committees, or they were verbally assigned to work in the public podiums. (Although some non-democratic heads of state are still keen to squeeze the tech giant meat.)

In Europe, Facebook's repeated demands last year that Zuckerberg had asked policymakers' questions certainly did not go unnoticed.

] Zuckerberg's vacant chair in the DCMS committee is both a symbol that the company does not assume greater social responsibility for its products, as well as an indication of market failure; The CEO is so powerful that he is not responsible to anyone, neither his most vulnerable users nor their elected representatives. Therefore, British politicians have created political capital on both sides of the gait by talking about cutting up tech giants.

The political implications of the Cambridge Analytica scandal are far from over.

Pretty much The UK regulator could successfully beat a regulatory hammer to break up a global Internet giants like Facebook, headquartered in the US. However, policymakers have already passed the debate on public opinion and are looking forward to a conversation.

This is a sea change to the neo-liberal consensus, which allowed regulators to sit on their hands for more than a decade as technology quietly started. People's data and the rival candidates were raised and it worked Basically, turning from highly scalable startups into market-distorting giants with Internet data networks to catch users and buy or block competing ideas.

The political spirit is ready to go there, and now the mechanism for breaking platforms that are distorting in the markets could also impact.

The traditional antitrust means of breaking a company in its business is still awkward when it comes to the rapid pace of digital technology. The problem is to deploy such a fix so fast that the company has not been reconfigured to perform the reset.

The Commission's antitrust decisions on Tech-Beat have impressively accelerated Vestager's watch. Still, it feels like watching paper sliders wading through the syrup to catch a sprinter. (And Europe has not gone so far as trying to break a platform.)

The FCO's decision against Facebook, however, suggests an alternative way of regulating the dominance of digital monopolies: structural remedies to control access to data that can be configured and applied relatively quickly.

Vestager, whose tenure as EC chief executive may end this year (though other roles of the Commission remain in potential and tantaliz has endorsed this idea itself.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4 in December in December, it poured cold water on the stock issue over breaking tech giants in December – instead, the Commission could examine how larger companies get access to data and resources That's exactly what the German FCO did in its order to Facebook.

At the same time, Europe's updated data protection framework has received the most attention for the level of financial sanctions that are imposed on serious breaches of compliance However, the Regulation also gives data monitoring programs the to limit or prohibit processing. And this power could similarly be used to reshape or completely suppress a business model that loses rights.

The merger of privacy and antitrust concerns actually reflects the complexity of current regulators seeking to curb digital monopolies. But they are prepared to master this challenge.

In an interview with TechCrunch last fall, European Data Protection Supervisor, Giovanni Buttarelli, told us that the bloc's Data Protection Officers are seeking joint collaboration with the antitrust authorities to respond to the platform's performance. "Europe wants to speak with one voice, not just in the field of data protection, but better by addressing the issue of digital dividends and monopolies – not sectors," he said. "But first, joint enforcement and better collaboration is crucial."

The decision of the German FCO is a concrete proof of the kind of regulatory cooperation that could eventually exist against tech giants.

Blogging in support of The decision this week, Buttarelli said: "It is not necessary for competition authorities to enforce other areas of law. All you need to do is identify where the most powerful companies are setting a bad example and harming consumer interests. Data protection authorities can help with this review.

He also had his own forecast for surveillance technologists, warning: "This is the tip of the iceberg – all companies in the digital information ecosystem Rely on tracking, profiling and targeting if you're up to date. "

Maybe the regulators have finally figured out how to move fast and break things up.

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