Italy’s antitrust authority has launched an investigation into cloud storage services offered by Apple, Dropbox, and Google after hearing complaints around unfair commercial practices, TechCrunch reported. The move comes with increased government scrutiny in the United States and EU over the dominance of big tech firms.
What is being probed: Competition regulator AGCM said in a press release that it has opened six investigations in all into Google Drive, Apple iCloud, and Dropbox over complaints around the collection of user data, including lack of proper information and valid consent for commercial data collection. The regulator said it is looking into complaints of violations of Italy’s Consumer Rights Directive.
- Dropbox has been accused of failing to clearly communicate contractual conditions such as how to withdraw from a contract or exercising a right to reconsider.
- Other concerns being looked at include, the rights of the service provider to suspend or interrupt service, liability exemption even in the event of loss of documents stored on the service, and the use of an English version of the contract instead of an Italian version.
Italy is also looking into Amazon, eBay: Italy’s anti-trust watchdog in March began investigating Amazon and eBay for hiking prices of products such as hand sanitisers, disinfectant gels, and masks, earlier this year as the coronavirus pandemic accelerated. The regulator has opened investigations into two of Amazon’s subsidiaries in Italy and Europe.
- In July, Italian investigators raided Apple and Amazon’s local offices as part of a probe into whether the companies engaged in anti-competitive cooperation to sell Apple products and Beats headphones.
Competition scrutiny of Big Tech persists: The European Union and its member nations have opened probes into Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook. For instance, Germany is also investigating Amazon for allegedly abusing its dominance while setting prices for products sold by third-party sellers. The regulator reportedly received multiple complaints about Amazon trying to influence such prices. Apple is being investigated in Italy over issues regarding Apple Music, the App Store, Apple Pay and more.
In the US, the companies are facing probes from the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice (DOJ) over potential antitrust violations. The Trump administration is pushing for an early antitrust complaint against Google. The DOJ’s investigation in this matter began over a year ago, and they seem to be under pressure to present a complaint in the run-up to the presidential election in November. US Attorney General William Barr has personally made pursuing Google and Big Tech’s dominance a priority.