The law on digital markets proposed to tame big technologies; Yandex raises concerns over data sent to Russia

In this weekly segment, ExchangeWire summarizes key industry updates in media, marketing and trade from around the world. In this edition: European lawmakers propose the Digital Markets Act to tackle antitrust behavior in Big Tech; The Russian search engine, Yandex, has raised security concerns over the collection of user data; US Representatives Propose New Bill to Create Digital Dollar; and Meta hired digital consultancy Targeted Victory to “orchestrate a nationwide campaign” against TikTok.

Europe proposes digital markets law to limit big tech

European lawmakers have finalized proposed rules under the Digital Markets Act, requiring tech giants to open up their services and platforms to other companies. The law marks the EU’s most significant regulatory move against the antitrust behavior of Big Tech companies, which have long been accused of using their market dominance to block competitors.

Heavyweights affected by the proposed Digital Markets Act include Google, which will be asked to provide an alternative to its own search engine, Maps and the Chrome browser for its Android operating system. Apple will also be affected, being forced to enable third-party payment options on its App Store as an alternative to its own payment system, in addition to allowing iPhone users to uninstall company-imposed and browser-enforced apps. Default web, Safari.

Commenting on the proposed settlement, Apple said it was “concerned that certain provisions of the DMA will create unnecessary privacy and security vulnerabilities for our users.”

The introduction of the Digital Markets Act comes as the EU and US announce they have agreed “in principle” to a new framework for cross-border data transfers. The new framework is meant to replace the Privacy Shield, which allowed companies to transfer user data between the EU and the US, and was declared void by a European court in July 2020.

Speaking on March 25, US President Joe Biden said: “This framework underscores our shared commitment to privacy, data protection and the rule of law.”

Russian Yandex raises data security concerns

Russia’s largest internet company, Yandex, has collected information from millions of people by embedding code in mobile apps before transferring the data to servers in Russia, raising significant security concerns.

The discovery of the extent of Yandex’s data collection and sharing was made by researcher Zach Edwards, who had led an application audit campaign for the nonprofit Me2B Alliance. Yandex has confirmed that its software collects information regarding citizens’ “device, network and IP address” and stores that data “in both Finland and Russia”, although the tech giant insisted on the fact that the data collected is “non-personalized and very limited”. , adding “Although theoretically possible, in practice it is extremely difficult to identify users based solely on the information collected. Yandex certainly cannot do this.

Either way, researchers are concerned that the Kremlin could access data collected by Yandex and use it to track people through their mobile devices.

Often referred to as “Russia’s Google”, Yandex was founded in 2007, and the search engine has long attempted to operate independently of President Vladimir Putin’s desire to control the country’s internet more tightly. The company says it follows a strict internal process when dealing with national and international governments, and that “any request that does not meet all relevant procedural and legal requirements is rejected.”

According to the Financial Times, however, various tech industry experts are concerned that the data collected could be used to identify users and be accessed by the Russian government, despite Yandex’s claims.

US lawmakers propose bill to create digital dollar

On Monday, March 28, four US lawmakers proposed the Electronic Currency and Secure Hardware Act (ECASH Act), a new bill that would allow the Treasury Department to manufacture and issue an electronic dollar.

The ECASH Act was proposed by Democratic Party Representatives Jesús Chuy Garcia (Illinois), Stephen Lynch (Massachusetts), Ayanna Pressley (Massachusetts), and Rashida Tlaib (Michigan), and would enable the creation of a digital dollar that preserves privacy and anonymous transactions. The proposed digital dollar would work the same as a physical dollar and would be stored on a user’s card or phone. The dollar would also be token-based, instead of account-based, meaning funds would be lost if a user lost their phone or card.

Under the proposed ECASH law, digital dollars would operate independently of blockchain technologies, unlike existing cryptocurrencies, and would be available to people who are unable to open traditional bank accounts, such as than people who cannot reach the minimum balance.

Speaking to Coindesk, Rohan Gray, an assistant professor at Willamette University who viewed the proposed bill, explained, “We are proposing to have a true cash-like bearer instrument, a system based on tokens that neither centralized ledger nor distributed ledger because it had no ledger. It uses secure hardware software and is issued by the Treasury.”

Meta hires agency to ‘orchestrate a nationwide campaign’ against TikTok

puppetMeta has hired digital consultancy Targeted Victory to “orchestrate a nationwide campaign” against TikTok, The Washington Post reported, as the tech giant revisits previous plans to publicly slam rival platforms.

The Post reported obtaining internal emails from the agency detailing a campaign to threaten the ByteDance-owned video platform. The campaign includes publishing editorials and letters to the editor in major news outlets to help crush their competitor.

According to the report, Targeted Victory is known to manipulate “public opinion against TikTok” by running local news stories.

Meta confirmed the accusations, with spokesperson Andy Stone commenting, “we believe all platforms, including TikTok, should be given the scrutiny consistent with their growing success.”

Facebook was previously caught hiring public relations firm Burson-Marsteller in 2011 to expose hard-hitting stories about Google’s privacy policies. The prominent public relations firm told the Guardian that the deal was “not standard operating procedure at all” and went against company policies.

Meta has made a number of attempts to keep up with TikTok’s growing platform, including joining the platform itself, as well as launching a short TikTok-esque video feature, Facebook Reels, in February. In the announcement, Meta revealed that creators could be eligible for up to $35,000 (~£26,663) per month based on views of their reels under the Reels Play bonus program. This feature already exists within the TikTok community, though, through a service called the TikTok Creator Fund.

Also in the news:

– Osita Osadebe from Thomson Reuters on the Digital Markets Act; Apple; and Buzzfeed News

– Boots’ Ollie Shayer on opportunities and challenges for retailers in retail media

– Customizable AI in a Changing Landscape: Q&A with Scibids

– The programmatic trader role should be made redundant; It’s time to embrace automation

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