The latest inquiry coincides with growing antitrust scrutiny around the globe as tech giants have been increasingly accused of using their indomitable size and reach to limit competition while bullying their customers and rivals into using their products exclusively. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Japan's Fair Trade Commission issued a report Thursday accusing big tech companies of potentially breaking antimonopoly laws by promoting news on their platforms but not sharing the profits with content providers.
In a market study report issued Thursday, the panel identified six possible violations of antitrust laws by Google and Yahoo Japan Corp., and called on the digital titans to disclose internal methodologies that determine compensation for distributed content.
As part of the case, Yahoo and other news portal operators face four possible violations for allegedly refusing to renegotiate contracts with news providers after readership dropped recently due to redesigned display methods on the platforms.
The other two potential violations in the case are related to alleged antitrust activity by Google, which is accused of blacking out the visibility of news content from rival platforms in its search results.
Japan's commission vowed to take punitive action against the companies if any antitrust violations were found.
Google issued a statement saying it would explain its internal protocols for news distribution after taking a closer look at the allegations in the investigative report.
In the current industry landscape, tech giants like Google receive the lion's share of digital revenue to distribute news to billions of consumers around the world, while content generators like newspapers, magazines and broadcasters struggle for little if any compensation.
The latest inquiry coincides with growing antitrust scrutiny around the globe as tech giants have been increasingly accused of using their indomitable size and reach to limit competition while bullying their customers and rivals into using their products exclusively.
Governments worldwide were continuing efforts to rein in an industry that was largely unregulated before the turn of the last century, and as online news portals have become the primary source of information for much of the global population.
Japan's investigation also comes as Google stands trial in the United States in a separate antitrust case accusing the company of trying to crush its smaller rivals by signing exclusive digital advertising agreements to make its search engine the first to pop up when users search the Internet.
In early 2021, Japan's antitrust commission urged the tech giants to reach terms with news outlets on digital advertising, but no improvements came as a result.
In December 2022, U.S. tech giants, including Facebook owner Meta, threatened to remove news content from social media platforms after U.S. lawmakers amended a defense bill to include a provision that would help the news media get paid for content.
The Journalism Competition Preservation Act, which cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee in June, would allow news organizations to collectively negotiate terms that would force big tech companies to start ponying up more for news content distributed on social media platforms.