By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Europe's luxury brands want EU regulators to take a tougher line against online retailing giants like Amazon and Alibaba on issues like data protection and counterfeiting, the head of a leading industry group said.
The call by Andreas Kaufmann, president of the European Cultural and Creative Industries Alliance (ECCIA) and chairman of Germany's Leica Camera AG, comes as the European Commission overhauls its regulatory and policy approach to tech companies.
"The internet at the beginning was free for anyone. It's not now, it's driven by market power, it has to be regulated," Kaufmann told Reuters in an interview.
Europe's luxury brands contribute about 800 billion euros ($887.5 billion) in revenue annually to the economy, accounting for 4% of its gross domestic product, and employ over 2 million people.
They have long complained about tech companies free-riding on their investments and tarnishing their image.
The ECCIA, which represents over 600 brands and cultural bodies, wants regulators to strengthen measures against big tech companies on issues like intellectual property rights and data protection.
"The existing framework doesn't reflect what is best for our brands. Amazon for example gets information which we are not allowed to give to our distributors. Amazon collects and decides," Kaufmann said.
The alliance, which is made up of groups in the cultural and creative industries in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, is hoping the Commission will take its views into account as it drafts rules known as the digital services act (DSA). "A well-functioning single market for digital services helps provide new opportunities for many traditional companies (in particular small or new companies)", a Commission document seen by Reuters said. The European Union should also focus on reducing tariffs in China, the United States, South America and India, Kaufmann said. ($1 = 0.9014 euros) (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Jan Harvey)