THE LEX COLUMN: Tech regulation in slow motion
Chance of fines and restrictive new laws has edged up
The regulatory encirclement of Silicon Valley is under way. Now that the US department of justice and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have divvied up oversight of the biggest tech companies, the chance of fines and restrictive new laws has edged up. Google, which was recently slapped with a €1.5bn penalty for antitrust violations by European regulators, is one of the most exposed.
Shares in Google parent company Alphabet are down 5% this week. Yet this looks premature. The division of labour between regulators does not mark the start of an investigation. Current antitrust laws predate the tech industry and tend to focus on the effect of competition on consumer prices. Google services such as Google Maps and Gmail cost nothing.