France fines Google 100 million euros and Amazon 35 million for illegal collection of user information

On Thursday, 10 December, the French data protection regulator CNIL ruled Google’s Alphabe business to be fined EUR 100 million (US $ 121 million) because Google’s search engine abuses the Cookie Network Monitoring Regulations management feature.

In addition, the CNIL has levied a fine of EUR 35 million (approximately US$ 42 million) on Amazon because without the user’s permission, the firm installed tracking code cookies on their machines or smartphones in order to carry out system inspections. Uh, track.

In order to obtain customer information in this manner, CNIL allows the two businesses to alter their conduct within three months, or they will be fined 100,000 euros per day.

This time the fine has doubled, relative to the maximum fine that the CNIL levied on Google last time. Before that, Google has been specifically scrutinized by the European Commission and fined more than EUR 8.2 billion in three antitrust lawsuits.

According to a report on the US Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC) website on December 8, French President Macron said on Tuesday local time that Europe must maintain its “digital sovereignty” in order to reduce its dependence on US technology giants. He also outlined three major measures to realize this “digital sovereignty”.

Macron said that although the major digital platforms in the United States have contributed to social “big changes” after the outbreak of the new crown epidemic, in terms of technology, Europe needs “European solutions and European sovereignty.”

Macron said in a conversation with Skype co-founder and Swedish billionaire Niglas Zenstrom: “We need European financing, European solutions, European talent and European regulations.”

He added: “We have regulation, but we don’t have a technology giant that can compete with several big technology giants.” Macron’s so-called technology giant refers to companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon in the United States.

Macron also outlined three major measures taken by Europe to realize its “digital sovereignty” strategy: the EU is more involved in the venture financing of technology companies, the establishment of a “digital single market” that promotes privacy protection and the development of technological innovation, and the creation of European cloud and data Solutions to reduce dependence on American companies.

As the EU strives to become a global technology leader, “digital sovereignty” has become an indispensable concept. The EU aims to respond to and counter the dominance of large US technology companies.

It is reported that the European Union will soon announce a set of groundbreaking new rules to increase the management of digital markets and services, which will have a significant impact on American technology giants such as Google and Facebook.

At the same time, the European Commission, Germany and France initiated a project called Gaia-X to develop a new framework for European data infrastructure, with the fundamental purpose of escorting the development of future cloud providers in Europe. Gaia-X was announced in June this year, and the new architecture is expected to go online next year.

Atomico, the venture capital firm where Zenstrom works, released a report on Tuesday showing that in 2020, European technology startups are expected to receive more than 41 billion US dollars in initial investment. The report also emphasized that the EU faces many challenges in raising funds for growth and diversifying technology.

The European Commission (hereinafter referred to as the “European Commission”) plans to announce two major legislative proposals in early December, namely the “Digital Services Law” and the “Digital Market Law”.

The key content of the above two proposals is to adopt “asymmetric measures” to monitor “portal” large-scale Internet platforms. These platform companies need to take more measures to control online services and ensure the smooth operation of cross-border digital services. This will further impact the growth of technology companies. European business.

European Commission Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said that if the status quo is maintained, large “gateway” Internet companies will grow bigger and bigger, and EU regulators and consumers will not be able to cope.

Thomas Vinje, Co-Managing Partner of the Global Antitrust Practice Group of Clifford Chance Law Firm, said in an interview with a reporter from China Business News: “Many countries and regions around the world are studying how to deal with the new technological environment and whether and how to regulate technology giants. Europe has decided to take the lead and become a pioneer in digital platform supervision. The European approach will provide reference and reference for other jurisdictions around the world.”

“Compared with 20 years ago, the world has changed a lot. It is time for the EU to update its e-commerce directive,” he said.

“Asymmetric rules” will be the preferred regulatory solution

The forthcoming “Digital Services Law” and “Digital Market Law” are the first comprehensive reform of Internet rules in the EU in 20 years. The EU E-commerce Directive promulgated in 2000 will be updated by then, introducing a number of new regulations, and increasing Internet intermediaries and platforms. Responsibilities may include algorithm transparency regulations and Internet advertising rules.

Through the new legislation for the Internet industry, the European Commission hopes to clarify and introduce new service liability rules, establish more competitive digital economy market rules, and help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) compete with more mature participants.

According to foreign media, in order to ensure the achievement of the above goals, in the two bills to be announced, the EU will adopt the “asymmetric rule” (two-level legislation) as the first choice for supervision.

The so-called “asymmetric rule” refers to the adoption of different regulatory standards for large technology companies and small and medium technology companies. Large technology companies will face more stringent reviews and more penalties.

For large-scale “portal” Internet platforms, the Digital Market Law stipulates the rules of conduct (including a list of permitted and prohibited behaviors) that they must comply with, and further clarifies the responsibility system of online intermediaries.

For small and medium-sized technology companies, the EU hopes to take this opportunity to give them a chance to fully compete.

According to EU regulators, the EU has 500 million Internet consumers, but there have been problems in the management of large-scale “portal” Internet platforms. The EU’s supervision of digital services is largely uncoordinated and ineffective.

The EU regulator believes that the reason for this is that the “fragmented” legislation of each member state hinders the normal operation of the single market, thereby giving “gateway” large Internet companies a competitive advantage.

However, the European Union has been giving too much explanation on how to define large and medium-sized platforms. It only means that it is setting standards to define “portal” Internet platform companies. The standards may include the number and income of EU countries that use the platform for transactions. Scale and number of users, etc.

According to foreign media, according to the above rules, the new regulations are likely to be the first and most importantly applicable to platform-based companies with more than 2 million European users, and there may be 20 platform-based Internet companies affected by it.

Specifically, the four star companies of GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) are very likely to be listed. In addition, according to German media, platform companies such as Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, Soundcloud, Change.org, etc. may also be hit.

Small and medium-sized European technology companies may benefit from this. The beneficiary companies may include Allegro, Booking, Criteo, FacilityLive, King, Meetic, Spotify and Zalando. Among them, Spotify is now the European technology company with the highest market value, with a total market value of approximately US$60.8 billion.

The above-mentioned companies belong to the European Technical Association (EUTA). The agency believes that most European technology companies are still in the growth stage and need wise supervision to promote the growth of these companies. The EU’s “Digital Services Act” will create a truly vibrant digital single market and will place European technology companies in a favorable position in local and international competition.

When will the regulatory proposal be released?

In addition to how to define the subject of supervision, there is another key issue for the Digital Services Law and the Digital Market Law. When will the proposal be issued and what lobbying space will be given to large technology companies?

The two proposals were originally scheduled to be promulgated on December 2, but the promulgation of the legislative proposal has been postponed twice. According to foreign media, the proposal is now scheduled to be issued on December 15. According to some EU officials, it is not ruled out that the promulgation of the proposal will be postponed to 2021.

After the legislative proposal is introduced, there is still the question of when it can be transformed into the final law. After the proposal is promulgated, it needs to be debated by the European Parliament and approved by EU member states. The European Commission revealed that six months will be the shortest legislative time.

In Wenye’s view, change will not happen overnight. It may take several years from legislation to implementation. However, he thinks: “The arrow is already on the string.”