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EU court adviser sides with Google, Amazon in Italian rule spat

Published 01/11/2024, 04:42 AM
Updated 01/11/2024, 05:51 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Google logo is pictured at the entrance to the Google offices in London, Britain January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo:

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL)'s Google, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Airbnb need not comply with an Italian rule requiring them to provide information on the companies as they are already subject to laws in Ireland and Luxembourg where they are located, an adviser to Europe's top court said on Thursday.

The spat between the companies and the Italian government concerned a regulation obliging online service providers operating in Italy to join a register and submit various information as well as pay a financial contribution.

Failure to do so would result in penalties.

Google, Amazon and Airbnb subsequently challenged the rule in an Italian court, saying it was contrary to EU legislation which says online service providers are only subject to the rules of the country where they are established, while countries where they provide a service must refrain from applying their laws.

Both Google and Airbnb have their European headquarters in Ireland and Amazon in Luxembourg. U.S. online travel services provider Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) also objected to the requirement to provide information.

The Italian court later sought advice from the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), Europe's highest.

CJEU Advocate General Maciej Szpunar said judges should back the tech companies.

"A Member State cannot impose general and abstract obligations on an online service provider operating on its territory but established in another Member State," he said in a non-binding opinion.

The Court, which follows the majority of such recommendations, will rule in the coming months.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Google logo is pictured at the entrance to the Google offices in London, Britain January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo:

The cases are C-662/22 Airbnb Ireland, C-667/22, Amazon Services Europe, Joint Cases C-664/22 Google Ireland, C-666/22 Eg Vacation Rentals Ireland, C-663/22 Expedia and C-665/22 Amazon Services Europe.

(This story has been refiled to fix a typo in paragraph 3)

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