European Union has started an enquiry into how Silicon Valley uses information and data from the users for market profits. And as it announced its probe into the Internet of Things, Siri and Alexa have come under its scrutiny.
EU talked of signs that tech-giants might be restricting data access or manufacturing products not compatible with other companies’ products.
Margrethe Vestager EU Competition Commissioner told reporters that a voice assistant changes the way a user interacts with things.
She said that with voice assistants, users might only have an option instead of the full choice of products.
Apart from Alexa and Siri, she will also probe Google’s takeover of Fitbit, the health-data assistant.
“Interoperability is of the essence”
Vestager said that the key to success in this sector seemed to access to a large amount of user data. Therefore, Vestager said, that they have to make sure that the market players don’t use this data to “distort competition”.
“We see interoperability is of the essence if this market is to remain open and contestable,” she said.
The regulators will question companies that make the most assistants, who make devices, digital services and also the standard setters.
After quizzing around 400 firms globally, they will publish a preliminary report in 2021 and then the conclusion in 2022.
Risks from dominant digital ecosystem
EU said that the companies might favour their own products or set tough industry standards. This, in turn, might lead to the emergence of dominant digital ecosystems or gatekeepers which presents tipping risks.
Connected cars are not a part of this probe. Regulators who have to investigate automobile data will mainly deal with issues related to technology patent licensing.
Tech giants like Amazon, Google and Samsung Electronics have manufactured more and more smart products. Smart home assistants have given consumers a wider control of their homes through a remote app.
But these very products give large data access to these tech-firms. Since tech giants keep amassing large data, EU is worried that they may misuse it to finish the market competition.
EU worries that tech giants may use these digital assistants to block the competitors out.
Since digital assistants usually give single responses to the queries, they may direct online purchases to a single site.
Vestager said that the business-to-business digitisation was interesting because there is a “potential of the value of that marketing doubling” until 2024.