Wednesday 23 December 2020 10:54 am

Google CEO criticises antitrust regulation

Google chief Sundar Pichai has warned that “regulation can get it wrong” as his firm is increasingly targeted by antitrust moves.

Last week, the European Commission set out new regulation to curb the power of big tech. The Digital Services Act hopes to increase transparency and competition for tech firms.

The legislation will force firms, such as Google, to publish the algorithms used for rankings, as well as to police their own content. Big firms could be fined between six per cent and 10 per cent of global annual turnover if they fail to comply.

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In the interview with the FT, Pichai gave a guarded welcome to the regulation. He said: “I think it’s an important regulation to think through and get right.”

However, he warns that “Governments need to think through these important principles. Sometimes we can design very open ecosystems, they can have security implications.”

He added that the failure of GDPR to break down the monopoly of big tech “shows that for a lot of these things, the answers are nuanced, and regulation can get it wrong.”

The EU’s GDPR privacy laws, introduced two years ago, were designed to protect the personal data and privacy of EU citizens. However, the rules made it harder for third parties to collect personal information such as location data for targeted ads.

As Google has a direct relationship with consumers, they could get consent for the use of their data far more easily than smaller companies, effectively concentrating more power in Google’s hands.

Google is also facing antitrust charges from the US Justice Department and the US Federal Trade Commission.