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EU to probe market control of Facebook, Google, other tech firms

The European Commission is beginning a probe into how major technology companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google exploit their market power, a move that could potentially lead to new regulations, a report said on Tuesday.




Reuters indicated that the initiative is part of the "Digital Single Market Strategy" announced today by Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip, intended to help European online businesses compete with American rivals, which control much of the global market. In the process the Commission is expected to update European copyright laws and make it easier for companies to deliver packages across international borders, among wider policy changes.

Some areas of concern with big technology businesses are reportedly whether they are fully transparent about how search results are displayed, and whether they promote their own services to the point of hurting others.

The two leading powers in the European Union, France and Germany, have asked for regulation of "essential digital platforms" that undergird much of the Internet. Google, for instance, is the world's leading search provider, and is usually the default option in Web browsers.

Ansip recently told the Wall Street Journal last month that the Commission is not disproportionately targeting U.S. companies in its antitrust investigations. Google has been hit by multiple antitrust allegations, but of the 81 companies subject to Commission antitrust decisions between 2010 and 2014, only 21 were American.

"The American firms are allowed to have dominant positions, even monopolies here in the E.U., according to our regulations," he said.

There is no indication yet that Apple might be subject to the new probe, despite iTunes' control of music downloads and the App Store being the only source of iOS apps.