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EU Could Break Up Big Techs Under French-Dutch Proposal

Michael Behr

,

EU Parliament

The new call from French and Dutch ministers comes ahead of the Digital Services Act, which is expected to give the EU sweeping powers to regulate US tech giants.

A joint proposal from France and the Netherlands has called for EU powers to regulate large tech companies.

The position paper from the French Digital Minister and the Dutch State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy includes giving EU regulators the power to break up the big tech companies if necessary.

Tech majors have been accused of being gatekeepers – their size and market share meaning that they effectively dictate terms to other companies operating on the internet, stifling competition.

A statement from French Junior Minister Cédric O and his Dutch counterpart Mona Keijzer said that an authority should have the power to stop tech companies from preventing other groups using their platforms without justification.

The proposal also calls for users’ rights to take their private data to a competing platform and banning tech giants from promoting their own services at the expense of smaller rivals.

This would help preserve competition in a marketplace increasingly dominated by a few massive players.

“These platforms can hinder the entry of new companies and limit the freedom of choice for consumers and entrepreneurs,” said Keijzer.

She added that the proposal includes giving the EU the power to break up big tech companies but focuses on creating rules stopping platforms from becoming too big in the first place.

“France and the Netherlands have different cultures and come from different positions. But we have a common interest, from a sovereignty point of view, from a competition point of view to regulate tech players,” O said.

The EU is currently developing legislation to curb the power of the tech giants, the Digital Services Act. The regulations will prevent companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook from using collected data from their platforms in their other commercial activities, unless it makes the data available to other businesses working in the same area.

It would also aim to limit what the tech giants can use customer data on – for example, data received for advertising purposes will be limited to advertising.

The act is expected to be finalised by the end of the year. However, the new statement will increase the pressure on European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager to complete the legislation.

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Big tech companies have been faced with increased hostility from the EU in recent years. The bloc has been looking to safeguard its citizens data and ensure competition in the face of the growing power of big US tech firms.

Ireland’s data protection watchdog, the DPC, recently put an order on Facebook to suspend data transfers between the EU and the US.

However, cases involving big tech companies generally proceed at a slow pace, making them ineffective for dealing with the issues at the core of the rulings, such as data protection.

It is hoped that the Digital Services Act will help provide the EU with the regulatory power needed to hold big tech companies accountable.

Michael Behr

Senior Staff Writer

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