Italy hits Apple and Google with $22.5m antitrust fine over data use

Italy hits Apple and Google with $22.5m antitrust fine for their ‘aggressive’ data use – days after country fined Amazon and Apple $224m for violating EU competition rules

  • European countries are cracking down on practices of Big Tech companies
  • Italian antitrust watchdog has fined Apple and Google $22.5 million for violations of the consumer code
  • Comes days after pair were fined $224m for violating EU competition rules
  • New EU rules agreed this week will force the companies to do more to police their platforms for illegal content 

Italy’s antitrust watchdog slapped Apple and Google with $22.5 million in fines on Friday, the second time the regulator has sanctioned the US tech giants this week. 

It comes as European countries have cracked down on the business practices of Big Tech, while the EU is moving forward with legislation to tighten regulation.

The Italian competition authority said it fined Apple and Google $11.2million each for violations of the consumer code, including failing to provide enough information to customers and resorting to ‘aggressive methods’ in using their data.

‘Neither Apple nor Google provided clear and immediate information on the acquisition and use of user data for commercial ends,’ the statement said.

Italy’s antitrust watchdog has slapped Apple and Google $22.5 million in fines on Friday, the second time the regulator has sanctioned US tech giants this week 

Just days before, the same tech giants were fined $224m by Italy for violating EU competition rules.

The watchdog ordered Apple to pay $150million and Amazon $77 million after the tech firm and the e-commerce giant entered into a deal to penalise official and non-official sellers of Apple products. 

The agreement also covered Beats by Dre headphones, which are owned by Apple. 

US officials are expected to be watching the developments keenly as American lawmakers are eyeing similar moves to stop Silicon Valley beasts from stifling competition and crushing freedom of speech online. 

Both Amazon and Apple said they intended to appeal against the fines levied in Italy.

The Italian competition authority said it fined Apple and Google $11.2million each for violations of the consumer code, including failing to provide enough information to customers and resorting to ‘aggressive methods’ in using their data 

The Italian watchdog said a 2018 deal between the two US companies had ‘barred official and unofficial resellers of Apple and Beats products from using Amazon.it, allowing the sale of those products in that marketplace only to Amazon and to selected parties in a discriminatory manner’.

The aim had been to restrict the number of retailers and limit cross-border sales, it said.

The agreement spelled bad news for consumers, because at least 70 percent of electronics goods bought in Italy were purchased on Amazon.

The US big tech firms are the latest to fall foul of European fairness rules which has seen firms targeted across a range of issues, from the sale of consumer electronics, to the aggregation of news content on social media platforms.

Frustrated by the slow pace of antitrust investigations, EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager (pictured) proposed two sets of rules known as the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act targeting Amazon, Apple, Alphabet unit Google and Facebook 

It came as European Union member states yesterday agreed their common position on two landmark legislations that could set unprecedented oversight on Big Tech.

Frustrated by the slow pace of antitrust investigations, EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager proposed two sets of rules known as the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act targeting Amazon, Apple, Alphabet unit Google and Facebook.

The DMA has a list of dos and don’ts for online gatekeepers – companies that control data and access to their platforms – reinforced by fines of up to 10 per cent of global turnover.

The Digital Services Act (DSA) forces the tech giants to do more to tackle illegal content on their platforms, with fines of up to 6 per cent of global turnover for non-compliance.

The common position adopted by EU countries follows the main points proposed by Vestager, with some tweaks, with the European Commission as the main enforcer of the new rules despite an initial French proposal to give national watchdogs more power.


The watchdog also recently ordered Apple to pay £113 million and Amazon £58 million after the tech firm and the e-commerce giant entered into a deal to penalise official and non-official sellers of Apple products (an iPhone, right). The agreement also covered Beats by Dre headphones (left), which are owned by Apple.

Negotiations are expected to start next year, with the rules likely to be adopted in 2023.

‘The proposed DMA shows our willingness and ambition to regulate big tech and will hopefully set a trend worldwide,’ Zdravko Počivalšek, Slovenian Minister for Economic Development and Technology, said in a statement.

The changes agreed by the EU countries include a new obligation on tech companies that enhances the right of end users to unsubscribe from core platform services and shortens the deadlines and improves the criteria for designating gatekeepers.

Luxembourg, where Amazon has its European headquarters, welcomed the agreement which designates national watchdogs as the lead DSA enforcer for companies based in their countries.

‘Luxembourg is pleased that in general the country in which the intermediary is established remains responsible for the enforcement of the harmonised rules of the DSA, in particular thanks to closer cooperation with the other Member States and the Commission ‒ apart from when it comes to the very big players,’ it said in a statement.

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