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Author: Jennifer Rankin in Brussels

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Google fined £3.8bn by EU over Android antitrust violations



Company made its search engine the default on most phones using operating system

Google has been hit with a record €4.34bn (£3.8bn) fine by the European Union for abusing its market dominance in mobile phone operating systems.

The EU imposed the multibillion-euro penalty after finding that the US tech firm required smartphone manufacturers to pre-instal Google’s search and browser apps devices using its Android operating system, otherwise they would not be allowed to use its Google Play online store and streaming service.

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EU votes for copyright law that would make internet a ‘tool for control’



MEPs defy warnings from internet pioneers, civil liberties groups and commercial interests

A European parliament committee has voted for legislation that internet pioneers fear will turn the web into “a tool for surveillance and control”.

In a key vote on a draft law to overhaul EU copyright rules, the parliament’s legal affairs committee on Wednesday voted for measures that would require the likes of Google and Microsoft to install filters to prevent users from uploading copyrighted materials.

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Complaints that Zuckerberg ‘avoided questions’ at European parliament



Facebook founder spends 30 minutes giving answers to 60 minutes of MEPs’ questions

Mark Zuckerberg’s meeting at the European parliament ended in acrimony amid a chorus of complaints that the Facebook founder had been allowed to evade questions and give vague answers. Over the 90-minute session, the Facebook founder told MEPs there would be no repeat of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal as he fielded accusations that his company had too much power.

The format meant Zuckerberg spent around 30 minutes giving answers to a 60-minute block of consecutive questions. The 12 MEPs asked dozens of overlapping questions that allowed the Facebook boss to pick and choose his answers. Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the liberal group, slammed the “precooked format” as “inappropriate” and said it had permitted Zuckerberg to avoid questions.

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Mark Zuckerberg to appear before European parliament



Facebook chief’s closed-door meeting with MEPs will be seen as snub to UK

Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to appear before the European parliament at a closed-door meeting possibly as soon as next week, according to the parliament president, Antonio Tajani.

The Facebook founder’s decision to meet MEPs will be seen as a snub to the UK parliament. British MPs have asked him to appear to explain the company’s role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal where the personal data of tens of millions of people was used without their permission.

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Artificial intelligence set for multibillion-euro EU investment boost



Commission wants to boost artificial intelligence research amid concerns Europe is losing ground to US and China

Brussels has called for a €20bn (£14bn) cash injection for artificial intelligence research, while pouring cold water over controversial plans to give robots human rights.

The European commission wants governments and private companies to boost research and innovation spending on AI, amid rising concern Europe is losing ground to the US and China, where most leading AI firms are based. Health, transport and agriculture are among the areas the commission would like researchers to prioritise. But the commission distanced itself from proposals to give the most advanced robots the legal status of personhood.

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EU official seeks ‘clear game plan’ on social media and elections



British commissioner wants more transparency and limits on harvesting data for political ends

A senior EU official has called for action against internet companies that harvest personal data, as Brussels prepares to move against those spreading “fake news” following the Cambridge Analytica revelations.

Sir Julian King, the European commissioner for security, wants “a clear game plan” on how social media companies are allowed to operate during political campaigns to be ready for the 2019 European elections.

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Amazon ordered to repay €250m by EU over ‘illegal tax advantages’



Commission also says it plans to take Irish government to European court of justice over failure to collect €13bn from Apple

Amazon has been ordered to repay €250m (£222m) by EU authorities, after a ruling that the technology company benefited from illegal and unfair state aid from Luxembourg.

The European commission also announced on Wednesday that it planned to take the the Irish government to the European court of justice (ECJ) over its failure to collect €13bn in unpaid taxes from Apple, in relation to an earlier ruling.

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Facebook fined £94m for ‘misleading’ EU over WhatsApp takeover



European commission says fine is a ‘clear signal’ to companies that they must comply with EU merger rules

Facebook has been fined €110m (£94m) by the EU for providing misleading information about its 2014 takeover of WhatsApp.

The European commission said it had imposed a “proportionate” fine on the technology company to send a clear signal that all firms must comply with EU competition rules.

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Ireland may not get Apple’s €13bn back taxes in full, EU says



Tech firm can could cut payments to Dublin if other member states demand a slice or it pays more to US parent company

Ireland may never see the full €13bn (£10.8bn) in unpaid taxes owed by Apple, the European commission has said, if other EU countries go after the American tech giant for a share.

The EU executive also said Apple could reduce its multibillion-euro tax bill to Ireland if it increased payments to its US parent company, as it revealed the full text of its landmark ruling against the US tech giant for the first time.

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