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EU to tackle complaints over tech companies' trading practices
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-05-13 15:21:36

European companies such as Spotify, Rocket Internet and Deezer have complained that online platforms - such as search engines and app stores - abuse their position as gateways to customers to promote their own services or impose imbalanced terms and conditions.

The Commission said that initial findings of an investigation launched last year showed platforms were delisting products or services without due notice, restricting access to data or not making search result rankings transparent enough.

The Commission wants to establish fair practice criteria, measures to improve transparency and a system to help to resolve disputes.

Platforms like iOS and Android are now often the primary way through which people communicate and find information, making them de facto gatekeepers of the internet. Since the internet is now an integral and crucial part of our life - paying taxes, searching for jobs, buying/maintaining crucial insurance, etc. - we can't let access to it remain in the hands of companies with consumer-hostile interests such as Apple and Google. I'm glad the EU is looking into this.

As for Apple's and Google's complaints - cry me a river.

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Alternatives becoming less viable
By Alfman on 2017-05-13 16:02:59
I'm totally with you on this Thom.

There's absolutely no doubt that these companies are exploiting their positions to stifle competing alternatives to the point where competing against the incumbent corporations is becoming less and less viable.

The complex part of this is getting everyone on board with a solution. Some people view this ultimate consolidation of power as an intrinsic failure of capitalism since a competitive free market is no longer possible. At the other extreme you've got people who really don't have a problem that corporations at the top control everything. And then you've got people who are just oblivious to all of this.


Whether it's government or corporations, I strongly oppose having too much power in too few hands, that's dangerous in it's own right. I don't know what individuals can do to fix this though. People are fearful of government regulation, even if it's necessary to keep corporations in check. Additionally the corporations have been extremely successful in astroturfing anti-government sentiment. But deregulation has proven to have catastrophic consequences almost every time.

Edited 2017-05-13 16:12 UTC
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The app store is easy to fix...
By Damnshock on 2017-05-13 22:11:19
And Google already does this somehow: let users install from whatever sources they want ( yeah, I know, you need to enable "external sources" on Google's case)

If you have this, Google is winning because people *want* to use it.

Please, companies, start publishing your apps on your website/servers so I can stop using the Google "platform".

In all honesty, I would make it illegal that you cannot install whatever you want on a device that let's you install extensions/apps/whatever in any way.

I am having an ethics dilema on the search engine side though: nobody is forcing me to use Google or Bing but.... there are so *few* search engines that is a "de facto" forcing down my throat situation :'(
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RE: The app store is easy to fix...
By Alfman on 2017-05-13 23:43:53
Damnshock,

> And Google already does this somehow: let users install from whatever sources they want ( yeah, I know, you need to enable "external sources" on Google's case)

If you have this, Google is winning because people *want* to use it.


We can break things down a bit more to get additional insights:

1. As you say, they really do *want* to use google specifically.
2. They use whatever is installed by default.
3. Installing alternatives is too complex for laymen.
4. The apps they need aren't available elsewhere.


A lot of people (and perhaps even the majority) fit in #2. They're not trying to use google, but the fact that it's bundled means that's what they use without another thought. This is a huge advantage.

> Please, companies, start publishing your apps on your website/servers so I can stop using the Google "platform".

I agree with you, but part of the problem here is #3. It's too hard for users to install apps from other stores, in part because google designed it that way. Java web start (A Sun technology from a decade ago) was vendor neutral and it worked well, it would be a good model for how app publishing should work, however google has no incentive to implement anything like it because it makes it too easy to circumvent google.


I fit in category 4. Many apps, including my bank's are only available through google. But otherwise I do try to support others.


> In all honesty, I would make it illegal that you cannot install whatever you want on a device that let's you install extensions/apps/whatever in any way.

I think it should be a right as well, it's your property after all, but alas we're moving into a future where the corporations hold the rights to our hardware.
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The same story...
By teco.sb on 2017-05-14 16:56:02
I can't help but think how we, as a species, continually repeat past mistakes. It's like we never learn from them.

Just take this image and replace railroads with "online platform": http://haberdashdesign.com/wp-co...

We're a pitiful bunch, indeed.
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RE: The same story...
By Darkmage on 2017-05-14 21:28:26
Corporate monopolies and oligopolies are the company equivalent of Tyranny. It's time for a new Bill of Rights.
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RE[2]: The same story...
By Alfman on 2017-05-15 12:47:18
Darkmage,

> Corporate monopolies and oligopolies are the company equivalent of Tyranny. It's time for a new Bill of Rights.

It's time we recognize that individual liberties are harmed by corporations and not just government control. However the first Bill of Rights took place during circumstances when the people in power were fighting against the control of the countries they had escaped. These days there isn't much of an opportunity for that (short of another war). If we did convene to write a Bill of Rights today it would certainly reflect the interests of the wealthy/powerful. It would indoctrinate the "corporations are people too" mantra and give private corporations freedom from public regulation. So it may not be such a good idea to retouch the Bill of Rights today.
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Back in the day
By Kancept on 2017-05-15 18:40:03
Ahh, I remember as a young whippersnapper installing whatever apps on my devices. *sniff* I miss Palm.
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Oh the irony
By Soulbender on 2017-05-17 04:19:23
...of Rocket Internet being part of this.
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