DigitTrade Digest # 106


United States Takes On Google In Biggest Tech Monopoly Trial Of 21st Century

NPR: A court battle kicks off on Tuesday in which the U.S. Justice Department will argue that Google abused its power as a monopoly to dominate the search engine business. It’s the government’s first major monopoly case to make it to trial in decades and the first in the age of the modern internet.

The case against Google focuses on the company paying billions of dollars each year for exclusive agreements with phone makers, like Apple and Samsung, and web browsers, like Mozilla, which runs Firefox.

Judge Amit Mehta will preside over the trial; he was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2014. It’s a bench trial, so there’s no jury and Mehta will give the final ruling. The trial is slated to last about three months.

If Judge Mehta rules in favor of the Justice Department, it’s still unclear how he’d sanction Google. It could be anything from fines to a restructuring of the company, which could ultimately affect how people experience the internet.


China and EU hold talks on AI, cross-border data flow amid renewed tensions

CyprusMail: China and the European Union held talks on topics including artificial intelligence and cross-border data flows on Monday in Beijing, amid disputes over an EU probe into China’s electric vehicle (EV) subsidies.

The talks were part of an EU-China High-level Digital Dialogue co-chaired by China’s Vice Premier Zhang Guoqing and the European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova, the first of such dialogue in three years, the European Commission said in a statement.

The meeting comes as tensions between China and the EU are heightened after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced an investigation into whether to impose punitive tariffs on Chinese EVs to protect EU producers.

Both sides agreed to promote an open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for the development of the digital economy, Xinhua said.

The two parties also discussed other topics including research and innovation, information and communication technology, and safety of products sold online.

South Africa

Commonwealth supports Southern African trade officials to leverage e-commerce opportunities

The Commonwealth: The Commonwealth Secretariat and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) held a two-day workshop in Johannesburg this week for the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Member States on leveraging emerging digital infrastructure and digital trade opportunities.

Focused on the need for the development of a regional framework on e-commerce within the SACU region, 50 trade officials from the Member States of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and the SACU Secretariat discussed methods to advance work on e-commerce at the regional level and identified key elements to be considered in developing the framework.

The workshop also included shared experiences from other international organisations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Trade Organisation (WTO), World Customs Organisation (WCO), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), along with representatives from the AfCFTA Secretariat, AU Commission and ECOWAS Commission, who discussed the promotion of cross-border e-commerce and opportunities for SACU Member States.


UK focuses on transparency and access with new AI principles

Reuters: Britain set out principles on Monday designed to prevent artificial intelligence (AI) models from being dominated by a handful of tech companies to the detriment of consumers and businesses, by emphasising the need for accountability and transparency.

Britain’s anti-trust regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), is, like other authorities around the world, trying to control some of the potential negative consequences of AI without stifling innovation.

The seven principles it listed aim to regulate foundational models such as ChatGPT by making developers accountable, by preventing Big Tech tying up the tech in their walled platforms, and by stopping anti-competitive conduct like bundling.

The proposed principles also cover access to key inputs, diversity of business models including both open and closed, and flexibility for businesses to use multiple models.

Britain in March opted to split regulatory responsibility for AI between the CMA and other bodies that oversee human rights and health and safety rather than creating a new regulator.

The United States is looking at possible rules to regulate AI and digital ministers from the Group of Seven leading economies agreed in April to adopt "risk-based" regulation that would also preserve an open environment.