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EU looks to bolster powers to take on big tech

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2-min read
close up mature businessman holding smartphone and checking news from company by texting to employee , business and technology concept
close up mature businessman holding smartphone and checking news from company by texting to employee , business and technology concept

EU leaders are looking to strengthen their powers to take on tech monopolies, according to a report published in the Financial Times.

Comments from EU commissioner Theirry Breton come at a time when “big tech” is facing serious opposition on the continent.

Companies such as Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB), Google parent Alphabet (GOOG), Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT) would be forced to reevaluate business practices if new rules came into effect.

Breton told the FT: “There is a feeling from end users of these platforms that they are too big to care.”

“[Under] certain conditions we may also have the power to impose structural separation,” he continued.

New powers would only be enacted in extreme circumstances, Breton said, but a proposal had been put forward to exclude groups from the single market if they refused to play ball.

A rating system could also be introduced, alongside a “blacklist” which would alert the public to behaviours such as non-compliance with tax laws and compliance with removing illegal content.

Once proposed actions have been finalised, they will go to the European Parliament and European Council.

A separate Digital Services Act is due to come into play before the end of the year, which will set out new rules for data-sharing and the digital marketplace as well as boosting competition. It is an update on rules brought into force around the end of the dot com bubble in 2000.

Across the bloc and elsewhere tech has come under considerable scrutiny. For years the idea of a digital services tax has been discussed by officials in the UK.

Recent reports saw a potential ignition of conflict with the US, as digital services taxes were brought into discussions as the government tries to find ways to plug the hole in Britain’s economy, following the impact from the coronavirus pandemic.

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