A Google Street View car.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel’s anti-trust regulator and tax authority are investigating whether Google, Facebook and Apple, among other Internet giants, are violating anti-trust laws and evading local taxes.
In a heated Knesset discussion on Monday, with Google and Facebook representatives in attendance, Israel’s Anti-trust Authority Commissioner Michal Halperin said the government was looking at the companies’ business practices.
“Larger economies than ours are struggling with these questions and the answers are not simple,” Halperin said in a statement. “In 2018, we conducted an in-depth examination and closely monitored the activities of the Internet giants, to examine whether they are exploiting their power and violating the Anti-trust Law.”
The authority is looking at whether major Internet companies are trying to stifle competitors amid hard financial challenges for traditional media.
Advertising rates have plummeted in other industries, including for television channels and newspapers.
The two firms control some 80% of the advertising market in Israel, or between some NIS 1.5-1.7 billion ($436-494 million) annually, according to Reuters.
When MK Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid) asked whether these types of companies were paying taxes, Moshe Asher, the head of Israel’s Tax Authority, chimed in.
“They are in the process of being assessed, and at the end of the day, we’ll collect taxes from those that come to Israel,” Asher said, declining to specify specific steps being taken.