Japan is once again drafting guidelines aimed at introducing more regulation to the digital market dominated by US tech giants.
This time, the goal is to mesh together the protection of competition and protection of user privacy and come up with a single set of rules that would serve both.
The Japan Times reports that the proposed guidelines came from the Fair Trade Commission, and will be up for public debate until the end of September. The guidelines could be in effect as early as October.
The push for more regulation comes down to preventing Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon from abusing user data they collect, and the market position this data gives them.
The idea behind the guidelines is to “for the first time” use antitrust laws to regulate “business practices between a company and customers” – with the stated goal of protecting consumers.
But another concern seems to be making sure that tech giants allow access to smaller players as well.
Namely, the Japan Times writes this an attempt to protect customer data, and mentions that these companies are being accused of “discouraging new companies from entering the market by monopolizing customer data through their platforms to bolster their competitive positions.”
The draft introduces the notion of “superior bargaining position” – and aims to apply it to a situation where users must provide their personal data to use one of the targeted dominant online services or platforms.
If the guidelines are approved, these companies will have to notify users and manage the data “properly” or risk being accused of unfair trade practices. It's unclear from the report what kind of penalties this behavior might entail.
Japan has in the past sought to curb the ability of tech giants to enjoy monopolistic access to user data – a policy defined as providing “fair access to big data.”
Without shying away from linking the issues of competition and privacy, the country's regulators previously made the case that such behavior on the part of Big Tech was resulting in stifling of competition – by limiting the ability of smaller companies to also gain access to user data.