Meta reached an amicable solution with Bundeskartellamt, the German national competition regulatory agency, allowing users to access its VR headsets through a separate Meta account. In 2020, Bundeskartellamt initiated a proceeding against Meta, which was found to be a company of paramount importance across markets, concerning its condition to require German users of Oculus VR headsets to access those only via a Facebook or Instagram account. However, the proceedings are still ongoing about whether and how data is processed when different Meta services are combined. Until the proceedings are concluded, data from VR headsets will be kept separately from data collected from other Mets services.
In the Autumn Statement 2022, UK Government announced the introduction of the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer bill in the third Parliamentary session. The bill follows several consultations in recent years.
The bill will provide powers to the Digital Markets Unit (DMU), change the competition framework, and protect consumers against ‘subscription traps’ and fake reviews online.
In the USA, Google will pay the biggest privacy settlement of US$391.5 million, following 40 states’ investigations of the company’s misleading location tracking practices between 2014 and 2020. According to the investigations, the users thought that they had disabled location tracking in their account settings, while Google still collected user location data through its other apps. In addition to paying the settlement sum, Google also agreed to provide more detailed information about location tracking, including what kind of data is still collected when location tracking is turned off for some settings, but not others. Moreover, it shall inform the users how to disable location tracking, erase data collected in the settings, and set data retention limits.
The Australian Federal Court fined Telstra Corporation Ltd (Telstra), Optus Internet Pty Limited (Optus), and TPG Internet Pty Ltd (TPG) a total of AUD$33.5 million for making false or misleading representations to consumers about certain internet plans under Australia’s national broadband network (NBN).
The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) headed the procedure. The court concluded the internet service providers breached the Australian Consumer Law by making false or misleading statements related to their 50Mbps or 100Mbps fibre to the node (FTTN) plans.
Telstra, Optus, and TPG admitted their false conduct to consumers and collaborated with the ACCC, making joint submissions to the court. The false or misleading statements affected about 120,000 consumers in 2019 and 2020.
On 11 November 2022, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) published the fifth report of its Digital Platform Services Inquiry.
Regarding consumer issues, the report recommends the submission of digital platforms to mandatory dispute resolution processes and more substantial requirements to fight against scams, harmful apps, and fake reviews, among others. There is also a recommendation for new laws that would require digital platforms to, among other issues, provide processes for reporting scams, harmful apps, and fake reviews, publish review verification processes, and ensure that consumers and small businesses can access appropriate dispute resolution.
The report also proposes mandatory codes of conduct for some digital platforms and services to address competition issues. Besides the consumer and competition recommendations, the report further highlights the ACCC’s support for prohibiting economy-wide unfair trading practices.