Increased dominance of North American technology multinationals raises concerns in the area of privacy and competition.
The tech giants of the US, Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook are the top five listed companies on Wall Street. The increase in their global dominance is not overlooked and is giving rise to concerns about issues related to privacy and competition. The shares of Amazon and Alphabet last week reached a historical value of one thousand dollars – a value that very few companies reach, and which demonstrates the increasing power of the North American technological multinationals.
The e-commerce giant Amazon is on track to raise half of its US online sales by 2021, a BBC quoted a specialist quoted as saying. Google, owned by Alphabet, expects to increase online advertising by more than 40%. Investors are betting on these companies, but more and more voices are concerned about the use of user data. Signs are beginning to emerge that these companies are targeting politicians and regulators.
The European example
In 2013, the European Commission fined Microsoft for giving preferential treatment to its own browser, Internet Explorer and this year fined Facebook for providing “incorrect or misleading” information during the acquisition of the WhatsApp messaging service.
Could the United States adopt a more similar approach to that of European regulators? Last month, after Brussels investigated Amazon in the ebooks market, the e-commerce company pledged to dispel fears about a possible abuse of e-book marketing position.
In addition, the EC initiated an investigation into Alphabet on the alleged preferential treatment of its own procurement services in the search results. These Brussels decisions are seen as more of a stance on American technology giants. According to Jonathan Kanter, a lawyer specializing in competition law, US regulators are far behind Europe when it comes to regulating, preventing and ensuring respect for the principle of free trade and industry. However, Jonathan Kanter suggests, attitudes may be changing.
“People are starting to ask questions about whether the tools and principles used so far are the right ones,” warning that there are many people who believe there needs to be some change.
The power to invade the users’ privacy
John Kwoka, a professor of economics at Northeastern University in Boston, believes that hampering mergers and acquisitions will not necessarily be enough to counter the power of these giants. There is also another feature that brings technological multinationals to the forefront: the ability to store user data. It is in this way, says the professor, that companies control the flow of information and consumer access to their companies.
Lina Khan, a think tank contributor to New America, has published an article about Amazon earlier this year, and gives examples of technology companies skirting the rules of competition, highlighting the battle between Amazon and Diapers.com. (Products for babies). In this case, Amazon lowered the prices of the company’s products, devaluing it in the stock market and eventually acquiring it.
Are these giants so omnipresent? In the technology sector, consumers are also free to turn to new businesses. Ronald Josey, an analyst at JMP Securities points out that “this is a competitive market.” Chinese technology giants like Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are resisting US control, launching themselves into the market as players of the same size, the BBC writes.