Japan to work closely with the US and EU to regulate tech giants

2020-10-19

Japan's Fair Trade Commission (FTC) is ready to work closely with counterparts in the US and Europe to regulate the big technology firms.

, Kazuyuki Furuya, the new chairman of the Japan's antitrust watchdog, said that the FTC supports global efforts to regulate social media platforms and other tech firms and would take appropriate measures if it finds that technology firms are abusing their powers to hamper competition in the market.

Furuya added that FTC could also launch an antitrust investigation into any business deal involving if the size of such deals is big enough.

"We're closely watching developments including in Europe," he added.

In August, EU antitrust regulators opened a probe into Google's proposed $2.1 billion deal to acquire fitness tracking firm Fitbit.

Furuya said that global coordination on such issues is essential as technology giants have been using similar business practices across the globe.

Japan's willingness to work with antitrust regulators in western countries comes at the time when the Financial Times reported last week that EU regulators are creating a 'hit list' of up to 20 big tech firms that may find themselves subject to new and tougher regulations compared to their smaller rivals.

The hit list is aimed at limiting the market dominance of big technology firms and intends to increase competition in the marketplace. It will be based on certain parameters, such as the total number of users of the platform and their market share.

Under new rules, companies who find their names on the list will have to share their data with rivals and be more transparent on how they gather information from their users. While the bloc has not written specific rules yet, the move suggests that the EU is now serious about penalising firms that have become "too big to care".

Last month, EU commissioner Thierry Breton had told the FT that to control big firms. Such powers, according to Brenton, would include breaking up tech firms or asking them to sell some of their operations in the region.

Earlier this month, the US House Judiciary Committee's Antitrust Subcommittee of its 16-month-long investigation into the challenges posed by the dominance of tech giants in the digital economy.

The report concluded that Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon are effectively monopolies that need to be broken up to restore competition and improve innovation in the industry. It argued that these companies had been abusing their tremendous powers to control access to markets and pick winners and losers.

The report also accused the tech giants of imposing harsh contract terms, charging excessive fees and extracting data from customers and businesses.