The anti-trust action brought by the U.S. Department of Justice during October of last year was not the first time federal regulators considered taking action against Google.
Newly revealed documents from a 2011-2013 Federal Trade Investigation revealed by Politico also focused on potential anti-competitive behavior by the search engine giant in relation to some of the same contractual relationships targeted by the current suit as well as other practices that may have impacted competitors such as Yelp and eBay. A follow up article by Politico has noted the bipartisan congressional support for renewed investigative activity.
Bipartisan support also exists in attempting to curb the power of tech companies on various issues including online privacy, digital advertisements and app-store fees in the legislatures of states such as Arizona, Maryland and Virginia, which a recent Wall Street Journal article has examined.
As we are still in relatively earlier stages when it comes to regulating the digital economy, state laws in this area can have an outsized impact such as the privacy law passed by California in 2018.
As regulatory efforts increase, large tech companies have increased their lobbying efforts, including at the local level.
Internationally, in a major development, after Britain’s Supreme Court recently ruled that certain drivers for App-based driver and delivery companies must be classified as ‘workers’ entitled to a minimum wage and vacation time, Uber stated yesterday that it would classify its British drivers as such.
This is the latest in Uber and other similar companies’ ongoing legal battles and is a major reversal after they had been successful in passing Proposition 22 in California last year, which created an exemption from requiring it and other App-based driver and delivery companies from classifying drivers as employees, and instead allowed them to classify drivers as less protected independent contractors.
It should be noted that the British classification of ‘worker’ constitutes a middle ground between a full employee and an independent contractor. Such middle ground does not exist in the U.S..