EU approves rules to control US tech giants in digital space

EU lawmakers have approved rules to control the power of US-based tech giants such as Alphabet unit Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft.
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EU lawmakers have approved rules known as the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA), which requires online platforms to do more to police the internet for illegal content, Reuters news report said.

Technology companies face fines of up to 10 percent of annual global turnover for DMA violations and 6 percent for DSA breaches. There will be more penalty for repeated offenders.

Commissioner Thierry Breton said in a blog post: “We will need to increase our staffing levels and build up specific expertise, in particular in data science and algorithms.”

“We started to gear the internal organization to this new role, including by shifting existing resources, and we also expect to ramp up recruitment next year and in 2024 to staff the dedicated DG CONNECT team with over 100 full time staff, combining both DSA and DMA – the DMA together with DG Competition.”

Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are yet to share their official comments on the new digital regulation in Europe.

The two rule books for Big Tech built on EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s experiences with investigations into the companies. She has set up an DMA taskforce, with about 80 officials expected to join up, which critics say is inadequate.

Lawmaker Andreas Schwab, who steered the issue through the European Parliament, has called for a bigger taskforce to counter Big Tech’s deep pockets.

European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) echoed the same worries.

“We raised the alarm last week with other civil society groups that if the Commission does not hire the experts it needs to monitor Big Tech’s practices in the market, the legislation could be hamstrung by ineffective enforcement,” BEUC Deputy Director General Ursula Pachl said in a statement.

The DMA is set to force changes in companies’ businesses, requiring them to make their messaging services interoperable and provide business users access to their data.

Business users would be able to promote competing products and services on a platform and reach deals with customers off the platforms.

Companies will not be allowed to favor their own services over rivals’ or prevent users from removing pre-installed software or apps, two rules that will hit Google and Apple hard.

The DSA bans targeted advertising aimed at children or based on sensitive data such as religion, gender, race and political opinions. Dark patterns, which are tactics that mislead people into giving personal data to companies online, will also be prohibited.