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Big Tech Compliance Tracker: Facebook Disables Some Instagram, Messenger Functions In Europe; Amazon Delays Merchant Fulfillment Fee Increases

Here’s the latest news from companies in the technology industry, which are coming under increasing scrutiny from officials and criticism from competitors.

Facebook Turns Off Instagram, Messenger Features for Users in Europe

Facebook is turning off a number of functions in its Instagram and Messenger apps for European users after new a European Union regulation called the “ePrivacy directive” began covering messaging apps as of Dec. 21.

However, the BBC reported that the Facebook apps’ central calling and text messaging features on the programs won’t be impacted.

Instead, Facebook has opted to switch off multiple interactive choices and provide only a core messaging service up to the time it can provide the extras again.

“We’re still determining the best way to bring these features back,” Facebook said in a statement, per the BBC. “It takes time to rebuild products in a way that work seamlessly for people and also comply with new regulation.”

Amazon Postpones Merchant Fulfillment Fee Increases

Amazon is delaying its logistics fee hike to help accommodate companies impacted by the pandemic, according to a letter from Amazon Worldwide Consumer CEO Jeff Wilke.

“We are doing this because we want to provide stability and support for you during what will likely remain a challenging winter as vaccine distribution gets underway,” Wilke wrote in the letter.

He also noted that Amazon has invested in excess of $10 billion in “COVID-19 related operating costs” since the pandemic began.

The executive said that the retailer will keep taking on the extra expenses without increasing charges until June 1, 2021.

Facebook Calls Out New Apple App Privacy Policy

Facebook called out new Apple policy as one that is “about profit, not privacy” in a December blog post. Apple is intending to unveil a feature early in 2021 mandating that apps sold in its store request consent from users to monitor their data, The Hill reported.

“It will force businesses to turn to subscriptions and other in-app payments for revenue, meaning Apple will profit and many free services will have to start charging or exit the market,” Dan Levy, Facebook’s vice president of Ads and Business Products, wrote in the post.

Levy contended that Apple is negatively impacting small companies and publishers that are already having a difficult time during the pandemic. The changes “will directly affect their ability to use their advertising budgets efficiently and effectively,” he wrote in the post.

State Attorneys General Sue Google Over ‘Exclusionary Tactics’

The attorneys general of 10 states, including Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, sued Google “under federal and state antitrust laws and deceptive trade practices,” according to a complaint filed in federal court in Texas.

The complaint, which cites “internal Google documents,” said “Google sought to kill competition and has done so through an array of exclusionary tactics, including an unlawful agreement with Facebook, its largest potential competitive threat, to manipulate advertising auctions.”

“Attorney General Paxton’s ad tech claims are meritless, yet he’s gone ahead in spite of all the facts,” a Google representative noted, per the Texas Tribune.

In October, the U.S. Justice Department and 11 states filed a separate civil suit against Google to stop it from “unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets and to remedy the competitive harm,” according to an Oct. 20 press release.

Facebook Reportedly Proposed Licensing Code to Competitor to Assuage Antitrust Concerns

Facebook has put forward the idea of easing antitrust concerns by allowing a competitor to license access to its code and its users’ collection of relationships to allow for the easier development of a rival social platform, according to unnamed sources in a report from The Washington Post.

The social media company didn’t provide the Post with company executives to talk about the matter, but company representative Chris Sgro told the outlet that “we will continue to vigorously defend the ability of people and businesses to choose our free services, advertising, and apps because of the value they bring.”

Facebook provided the offer to state and federal investigators who were preparing two antitrust suits against it, according to the report, which noted that investors ended up turning down the idea.

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