• US stock market daily report (April 17, 2015, Friday)

    European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip is expected to formally announce a new strategy for a widespread inquiry on May 6, 2015 to determine whether Internet platforms such as Google Inc. (GOOG-Nasdaq), Microsoft Corporation (MSFT-Nasdaq) and Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO-Nasdaq) are transparent enough in how they display search results. The inquiry will involve paid for links and advertisements as well as how platforms use the information they acquire. The inquiry is not an antitrust inquiry which could lead to fines of up to 10% of global sales for a company. In a draft of the strategy by the EU, for creating a digital single market, it says it will "carry out a comprehensive investigation and consultation on the role of platforms, including the growth of the sharing economy."

    Concerns of European business and politicians will be addressed regarding the dominance of U.S. tech giants and whether there is a level playing field for European firms. Part of the inquiry consists of how platforms compensate copyright holders for showing copyrighted material as well as limits on the ability of individuals and businesses to move from one platform to another.

    Calls from France and Germany in November stirred the investigation as the pair called for greater regulation of dominant Internet players who they believe are harming home-grown European web firms and asked the EU to launch a public consultation on the issue, with a view to regulating Internet platforms.

    Just this week, European competition chief addressed transparency of search results by Google that were under particular scrutiny. The EU chief accused Google of cheating competitors by distorting web search results to consistently favor its own shopping service.

    European regulators raise concerns over how Facebook, Inc. (FB-Nasdaq) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN-Nasdaq) - just to name a few Internet companies under the microscope - use the huge amounts of personal data they acquire.

    Citing potentially unfair terms limiting access to platforms is the draft "digital single market" strategy document. High fees, non-transparent or restrictive pricing policies are additional areas of concern.

    The document states, "While a framework exists for business-to-consumer complaints in all EU member states, no such mechanism exists for business-to-business relations."

    Contributed by Millennium Traders
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