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Big Tech Compliance Tracker: FTC Aims To Restore ‘Right To Repair’; Facebook, Telegram Face Russian Fines Over Content

Here’s the latest news from the technology industry, which is coming under increasing global scrutiny.

UK Digital Markets Unit Gets More Power

The U.K.’s antitrust watchdog, the Digital Markets Unit, can reverse anti-competitive actions by big tech firms starting next year. Exactly when the members of the unit can get to work is still in the hands of Parliament, which is expected to grant the group legal authority to act sometime in 2022. Until then, they must sit and watch — and wait.

Last month, the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) opened a market study to determine if Google and Apple’s platform duopoly stifles competition, reduces innovation or results in higher prices for consumers.

FTC Aims To Restore ‘Right To Repair’

The Federal Trade Commission, empowered by a new executive order signed recently by President Joe Biden, has unanimously approved a new policy statement that would restore the right to repair for small businesses, workers, consumers and government entities.

It’s aimed at “repair restrictions that violate antitrust laws enforced by the FTC or the FTC Act’s prohibitions on unfair or deceptive acts or practices.” The FTC also wants the public to submit complaints about companies that violate the policy. Apple has come under fire for locking components that make repairs cost-prohibitive or impossible without going through the company itself.

Facebook, Telegram Face Fines In Russia For Preserving Illegal Content

Facebook faces a fine of 6 million rubles (approximately $81,420) and the Telegram messaging app must fork over almost twice as much — at 11 million rubles (approximately $149,270) — after a Russian court found they had failed to delete illegal content from their platforms.

Moscow officials have repeatedly doled out fines to social media and other tech services for violations in recent months while also trying to get the companies to open offices in Russia and store personal data of Russians within the country’s borders.

Last year, Telegram was the victim of a data breach that exposed millions of people’s private information. And Facebook is being probed in Europe for its recent purchase of customer service startup Kustomer.

Apple, Amazon Boost Lobbying Spends; Microsoft, Google Scale Back

With debates ongoing about bolstering antitrust enforcement against tech giants, Apple spent $1.64 million in lobbying in the second quarter of 2021, up 12.3 percent from the previous quarter and Amazon went up slightly to $4.86 million.

Facebook kept its lobbying payouts at about the same level as the previous quarter ($4.77 million), while Microsoft was down almost 5 percent to $2.47 million and Google dropped 22.3 percent to $2.09 million.

Amazon, eBay Get Australian Antitrust Scrutiny

Australia has started an antitrust probe into the local units of eBay, Amazon, and other digital markets to ensure fairness at a time when online retail sales are soaring, in large part because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) also imposed stringent content licensing rules on Google and Facebook. The commission is considering retail as part of its increased scrutinization of Big Tech.

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