Italy is investigating unfair commercial practices at Apple, Dropbox, and Google, according to a Monday announcement. The Competition and Market Authority, Italy’s commerce oversight department, launched six total investigations into Google Drive, Apple iCloud, and Dropbox.
At hand, the question of whether these US-based companies properly informed users how their data would be collected and used. The inquiry will also look into whether Dropbox failed to provide customers with clear, accessible instructions on how to get out of a contract with the service.
Global Push for Privacy
User privacy and the collection of data have become hot-button issues this summer. But the Italian investigation is just the latest in a much wider movement to make tech companies more transparent. Earlier this summer, leaders from America’s four biggest tech firms—Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon—appeared before a panel in the United States House of Representatives. At the time, they answered questions about the use of data, and what efforts they had made to inform consumers of its usage. They also defended policies around free speech and monopoly abuses.
Meanwhile, the European Union is also pushing big tech to clarify terms and conditions. The governing body also wanted these firms to provide consumers with greater privacy protections. Last year, Facebook buckled under pressure from the EU, agreeing to change its terms and conditions to offer more clarity around data collection.
Back in July, Italian authorities raided local offices of Apple and Amazon in connection to a different competition inquiry. That probe, which is still ongoing, seeks to determine whether Apple and Amazon colluded to set prices for Apple products and Beats headphones. Such an offense, Italian authorities believe, would have been a violation of anti-competition statutes.
Still, as of Tuesday, none of the companies had commented on the investigation.