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Policy Wrap: Meta fined for undisclosed data collection, Google fined for Chromecast patent case, while Apple faces $1 billion penalty over app store commission
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Meta fined $14 million by Australia for secret data collection
A court in Australia ordered Facebook owner Meta Platforms to pay a total of A$20 million ($14 million) in fines for secretly gathering user data through a smartphone software that was marketed as a privacy protector.
Additionally, the Australian Federal Court ordered Meta to pay A$400,000 in legal expenses to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the plaintiff in the civil complaint.
Since a global crisis broke out over its use of data analytics company Cambridge Analytica in the 2016 U.S. election, Meta has faced legal issues in Australia relating to its treatment of user information. The Australian Office of the Information Commissioner is still pursuing a legal lawsuit against Meta for its interactions with Cambridge Analytica in Australia.
The decision made on Wednesday concerned a Virtual private network (VPN) service named Onavo. Onavo was promoted as a solution to protect user data from early 2016 to late 2017. By assigning a separate online address to their computer, VPNs mask an internet user's identity.
However, the judge Wendy Abraham stated in a written judgement that Facebook utilised Onavo to gather users' location, time, and frequency utilising other smartphone apps, as well as websites they frequented.
Abraham stated that the failure to make sufficient disclosures... may have deprived tens of thousands of Australian consumers of the opportunity to make an informed choice about the collection and use of their data before downloading and/or using Onavo Protect.
Apple faces $1 billion UK lawsuit by 1566 apps developers over app store commission
On Tuesday, more than 1,500 software developers in the UK filed a 785 million pound ($1 billion) class action complaint against Apple over its app store fees.
App developers have challenged the fees of 15% to 30% that the corporation charges some app developers for using an in-app payment system, and antitrust regulators in various countries have taken notice.
On behalf of 1,566 app developers, a UK complaint has been launched with the Competition Appeal Tribunal.
In a statement by Sean Ennis, a professor at the Centre for Competition Policy at the University of East Anglia and a former economist at the OECD, he mentioned that Apple's high fees for app developers is only possible due to its monopoly on the download of programmes onto iPhones and iPads.
He also said that the fees amount to abusive pricing and are unreasonable in their own right. Both app buyers and developers are harmed by them.
Google penalized $338.7 million in Chromecast patent case by the US
A federal jury in Waco, Texas concluded on Friday that Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet, had violated the patent rights of a software developer with its remote-streaming technology and must pay $338.7 million in penalties.
The jury determined that Touchstream Technologies' patents on streaming videos from one screen to another are violated by the Google Chromecast and other devices.
The complaint claims that Google met with Touchstream in December 2011 to discuss its technology but two months later declared itself uninterested. In 2013, Google unveiled the Chromecast line of media streamers.
According to Touchstream, Chromecast violated three of its patents and duplicated their technologies. Additionally, it claimed that Google's Home and Nest smart speakers, as well as other televisions and speakers with Chromecast functionality, violated its patents.
FTC prepares long-awaited antitrust lawsuit against Amazon that could break up the company
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is putting the finishing touches on its long-awaited antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, which may ultimately result in the corporation being divided into different parts.
According to the article, the extensive lawsuit could be filed as early as August this year and is expected to criticise a variety of Amazon's corporate practises.
The complaint may centre on issues with Amazon Prime and Amazon rules that the FTC claims prevent lower prices on competing websites, and regulations that it claims compel businesses to utilise Amazon's advertising and logistical services.
The report added that the FTC is expected to claim that Amazon steers sellers to its own logistics services by rewarding them with better placement on the site and punishing them when they don't. The e-commerce giant's digital advertising business and Amazon Prime will likely be targeted.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged Amazon last month with signing up millions of customers without their permission for its paid subscription Amazon Prime programme and making it difficult for them to cancel.
$20-billion Adobe-Figma deal to face full-scale EU antitrust probe
After preliminary analysis by EU regulators, Adobe's $20 billion offer for cloud-based designer platform Figma will be subject to a thorough EU antitrust investigation.
The action highlights antitrust watchdogs' caution when it comes to IT agreements where larger businesses could buy or acquire rival start-ups in order to put them out of business.
The purchase could harm competition in the market for interactive product design and whiteboarding software, the European Commission said earlier this year. By August 7, the EU competition enforcer is expected to have completed its initial review.
The web-based design and brainstorming platform from Figma is incredibly well-liked by internet companies like Airbnb, Coinbase, and Zoom Video Communications.
French antitrust regulator issues statement of objection against Apple on grounds of wrongful data usage
The French antitrust watchdog announced on Tuesday that it had filed a statement of objection against Apple, on the grounds that it believed the American technology corporation may have violated rules regarding the use of iPhone user data for advertising.
The watchdog is concerned that Apple could abuse its dominant position by implementing discriminatory, non-objective and non-transparent conditions for the use of user data for advertising purposes.
According to the watchdog, the statement starts an antitrust investigation during which the corporation will have the opportunity to present its defence.
When Apple started to ask iPhone owners if they were ready to let apps collect data used to define and send targeted ads, known as App Tracking Transparency (ATT), the company made changes to privacy features. As a result, four French online advertising industry groups filed an antitrust complaint against Apple in 2020. Publishers' revenues decreased as a result of the feature, according to industry trade groups.
IAB France, MMAF, SRI, and UDECAM, four associations, claimed that the changes made by Apple did not comply with European Union privacy laws. They cited the fact that, while the opt-in option was applicable to third-party developers, Apple's own apps did not contain it.
Digital payments rise 13% in the last financial year
According to the RBI's index, which gauges the uptake of online transactions, digital payments nationwide saw growth of 13.24% in the year through March 2023. In March 2023, the RBI's Digital Payments Index (RBI-DPI) was at 395.57, up from 349.30 in March 2022 and 377.46 in September 2022.
As a platform to measure the degree of national payment digitisation, the central bank had announced the creation of a composite RBI-DPI in March 2018.
The index consists of five main factors that facilitates the measurement of the depth and penetration of digital payments over time in the nation.
Payment Enablers (weighted at 25%), Payment Infrastructure - Demand-Side Factors (weighted at 10%), Payment Infrastructure - Supply-Side Factors (weighted at 15%), Payment Performance (weighted at 45%), and Consumer Centricity (weighted at 5%) are the 5 main parameters.
Starting in March 2021, the index is released every six months with a four-month lag. The country's overall expansion in payment infrastructure and performance over time has led to an increase in the RBI-DPI index across all metrics.
Govt intent on building a robust ecosystem for chip manufacturing
Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, stated on Thursday that the government is dedicated to building a globally competitive component ecosystem, one of which is going to build a semiconductor ecosystem.
A dynamic component ecosystem can already be created thanks to the existing policy framework. If necessary, the government will step in and develop further PLI-style programmes.
The minister noted that one of the government's declared objectives is to deepen and widen the electronics ecosystem, and that semiconductors play a critical role in this approach.
Shri Chandrasekhar also discussed the proliferation of startups in the semiconductor design industry. India, according to him, is a "rising force" in the RISC-V development.
With the goal of enabling the development of microprocessors for the future in India and for the rest of the world, as well as achieving industry-grade silicon and Design wins by December 2023, the Digital India RISC-V Microprocessor (DIR-V) Programme was introduced last year.
Currently 5 firms have received direct government financial help, and 25 others are being reviewed. Additionally, a thorough curriculum has been developed in collaboration with the industry to produce 85,000 competent and skilled individuals for VLSI (Very Large-Scale Integration). The process of embedding or integrating a large number of transistors onto a single silicon semiconductor microchip is known as VLSI.
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