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Why Turkey’s Regulators Became Such a Problem for Google

  • July 30, 2021

Google has been a constant target. This month, French antitrust authorities fined Google 500 million euros, or $593 million, for failing to negotiate in good faith to reach a licensing deal with news publishers to use short blurbs from articles in search results. Last month, Indian competition authorities opened an investigation into claims that Google used its dominant position as owner of the Android mobile operating system to give itself an advantage in the smart-television market.

In May, Italy’s antitrust authorities fined Google €102 million for barring an electric vehicle services app from access to its Android in-car software system.

Some attribute Google’s troubles in Turkey in part to the increasingly authoritarian leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his efforts to wrest power from Western internet companies. But the pushback in Turkey and elsewhere is also prodded by Google’s rivals, such as Yelp. Those competitors have spent years lobbying regulators around the world to be tougher than authorities in the United States and Europe, the traditional powers for regulating global businesses. Sometimes, as in Turkey, the rivals work with governments whose politics they may otherwise oppose.

“Enforcers from around the world think something needs to be done, and they’re not satisfied with what the traditional centralized regimes are doing,” said Harry First, a law professor at New York University.

In the past, countries focused on domestic industries because they didn’t have the resources or the knowledge to pursue antitrust action against major international firms, said William E. Kovacic, a former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. But as more countries take action against Big Tech, he said, a “shared intellectual infrastructure” makes it easier to pursue a case. In Turkey, the authorities leaned on European Commission findings.

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