On February 10th, Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) said Alphabet's Google had breached antitrust law related to suspending and blocking accounts on YouTube.
The competition watchdog initiated proceedings on violation of antitrust laws against Google in April 2021.
The FAS has come to the conclusion that the rules established by Google YouTube infringe upon the interests of users and limit competition in related markets. In particular, the regulator called the rules related to creating, suspending and blocking accounts and handling of user content on YouTube “non-transparent, biased and unpredictable”. As the FAS said in a statement:
"This leads to sudden blocking and deletion of user accounts without warning or justification for the actions. After a comprehensive study of the circumstances of the case, the Commission found the company guilty of abusing its dominant position in the market for YouTube video hosting services".
The amount of the fine for the company will be determined during an administrative investigation.
BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centre expert Daria Kotova draws attention to foreign experience in the regulation of digital platforms:
"Antitrust authorities in some countries propose to consider the obligation to establish transparent and clear rules of use as an important duty of digital platforms to maintain healthy competition in the market. Such duties for digital platforms have been established in Japan, China, and are proposed in major antitrust reform projects in the United States and the EU. One of the five principles for digital platforms established by the Russian FAS also prohibits broad and ambiguous wording in the rules for digital platforms”.
Digital platforms provide providers of goods, services or, as in the case of YouTube, content with an important (sometimes critical) infrastructure for promotion. At the same time, with powerful market power, platforms can dictate their terms to vendors who depend on them, often more convenient and favorable to the platform.
"It is important to comply with additional duties to treat other market participants fairly, even within the platform itself. In this sense, the decision of the FAS Russia only confirms and strengthens this logic," says Daria Kotova.