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EU Court Adviser Backs Google and Amazon in Italian Rule Dispute

Alphabet’s Google (GOOGL.O), Amazon (AMZN.O), and Airbnb (ABNB.O) are not obligated to adhere to an Italian regulation mandating the disclosure of company information. An adviser to the top court in Europe stated on Thursday that these companies are already subject to laws in Ireland and Luxembourg, where they are headquartered, making compliance with the Italian rule unnecessary. The dispute between these tech giants and the Italian government revolves around a regulation that requires online service providers operating in Italy to register, provide diverse information, and make a financial contribution.

Failure to do would so result in penalties.

Google, Amazon, and Airbnb subsequently contested the regulation in an Italian court, asserting that it contradicted EU legislation stipulating that online service providers are only subject to the regulations of the country where they are established. According to this legislation, the countries where these providers offer services must refrain from applying their own laws.

Both Google and Airbnb have their European headquarters situated in Ireland, while Amazon is based in Luxembourg. Expedia, a U.S. online travel services provider, also raised objections to the requirement of furnishing information.

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Following this, the Italian court sought guidance from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), located in Luxembourg, which is the highest court in Europe.

Advocate General Maciej Szpunar of the CJEU opined that the judges should support the technology companies. In a non-binding opinion, he stated, “A Member State cannot impose general and abstract obligations on an online service provider operating on its territory but established in another Member State.”

The Court, typically aligning with such recommendations, is expected to make a ruling in the coming months. The cases in question 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.

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