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How Big Tech is coping with antitrust pressure in Europe

The European Union has been ramping up its efforts to rein in the market power and practices of Big Tech companies, such as Alphabet, Amazon and Microsoft. These firms have been facing various antitrust investigations and lawsuits from the EU regulators, who accuse them of abusing their dominant positions and harming competition. Here is how these tech giants are responding to the antitrust allegations in Europe.

Alphabet settles with EU over Google’s advertising practices

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has reached a settlement with the European Commission over its online advertising practices. The Commission had accused Google of favoring its own services and products over those of its rivals in its display and search advertising markets. Google agreed to make several changes to its advertising products, such as giving more visibility and choice to rival ad networks and publishers, and allowing users to opt out of personalized ads.

The settlement will be binding for 10 years and will cover the European Economic Area. The Commission said that the settlement will increase competition and innovation in the online advertising industry, and benefit consumers and advertisers. Google could have faced a fine of up to 10% of its global annual revenues, which for Alphabet could have been as high as $47 billion.

How Big Tech is coping with antitrust pressure in Europe

Amazon avoids multibillion-dollar fine as it reaches EU antitrust settlement

Amazon has also agreed to make some significant changes to its business in Europe as part of a settlement of antitrust investigations that could have resulted in a hefty fine for the e-commerce titan. The European Commission had expressed concerns with Amazon’s dual role as both a marketplace and a competitor to merchants selling on its platform. The regulator had alleged that Amazon was using independent sellers’ data to its advantage, and giving preferential treatment to its own retail business or sellers using its own delivery services.

Amazon, for its part, says it is an enabler of small businesses in the region. Amazon committed to stop using non-public data on independent sellers for its retail business or for selling branded goods and private label products. The company also agreed to display a second buy box when there is a second offer that is different from the first on price or delivery, and to let Prime sellers choose any carrier for their logistics or delivery services. The changes apply only to the European Economic Area. In Italy, Amazon has agreed separate legal remedies with the country’s competition regulator relating to the buy box and Prime.

Microsoft faces antitrust probe from EU over LinkedIn integration

Microsoft is facing a new antitrust probe from the European Commission over its integration of LinkedIn into its products and services. The Commission has sent a questionnaire to Microsoft’s rivals and customers, asking them about the potential impact of LinkedIn’s data and features on the online recruitment market.

The regulator is concerned that Microsoft may be leveraging its dominant position in software and cloud services to gain an unfair advantage over its competitors in the online job search sector. Microsoft acquired LinkedIn in 2016 for $26.2 billion, and has since integrated it into various products such as Windows, Office 365, Outlook, Teams and Edge. Microsoft has not commented on the probe, but has previously said that it respects the regulatory process and is committed to ensuring fair competition.

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