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EU To Probe Google And Facebook Over Data Usage Issues

EU To Probe Google And Facebook Over Data Usage Issues
The multibillion dollar advertising business of Google and Facebook is once against put under the scanner as the top antitrust regulator of the European Union is set to investigate how these two companies utilize user data.
A preliminary probe into the manner in which Google and Facebook gather, process, use and monetize data for advertising purposes has already been initiated by the European Commission, it said earlier this week.
The advertising businesses of both the companies, which churn out hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue every year, is based on the knowledge that the companies possess about people and its users. However both in the home country of the companies, the United States, as well as in Europe, there is increased regulatory focus on how the companies are using the data that they possess - a large part of which is personal data of its users.
Concerns that the huge trove of user data that the companies have at their disposal could be used by them to muzzle the opportunities for upstart rivals, have been expressed on on multiple occasions by Margrethe Vestager, the European commissioner for competition.
A probe into whether the business policy used by about use of data that it gathered from independent sellers was in violation of EU competition rules has already been opened by Vestager, who was awarded greater powers to deal with these issues and made the heads of EU digital policy in September this year.
According to a report published by Reuters, this time the query of the EU antitrust body will focus on the data related to the company's local search services, online advertising, online ad targeting services, login services and web browsers, according to documents that have reportedly been seen by Reuters.
The company uses "data to make our services more useful and to show relevant advertising, and we give people the controls to manage, delete or transfer their data," said a spokesperson for Google. "We will continue to engage with the Commission and others on this important discussion for our industry," the spokesperson added.
No comments from Facebook on the issue were available.
Google is also being scrutinized by various EU member states. For example, the company’s planned $2.6 billion acquisition of Looker Data Sciences, a leading US analytics firm focused on data, is being proved by the British competition watchdog the Competition and Markets Authority, the government announced on Monday. The authority said that focus of the probe would be to ascertain whether the merger would reduce competition in the country.

The regulator is mandated to conduct examination of mergers and acquisitions between companies that it feels can have a significant impact on the sales, market share and the access and affordability of its products and services for customers.
The tough rules on data protection, hate speech, taxation and competition issues in the European Union has made life hard fro tech companies – especially those that do business online.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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