European Union Plans to Announce Regulations for Big Tech

On December 2, European Commission EVP and commissioner for competition Margrethe Vestager and European commissioner for internal market Thierry Breton plan to announce the new rules governing powerful online companies. Among the draft rules of the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, Big Tech companies will have to share data with rivals and regulators. Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai also apologized to Breton over a leaked document revealing his company’s proposed tactics against the European Union’s new, tougher rules.

Reuters reports that, “the new draft rules would allow the EU to ban companies or part of their services from the 27-country bloc as an extreme option,” an action currently not available. “Strict rules must be enforceable,” said Breton. “For this we need the appropriate arsenal of possible measures: Impose fines, exclude companies or parts of their services from the Single Market, insist that they split up if they want to keep access to the Single Market. Or a combination of all of these.”

But he did note that, “these sanctions would only apply to companies that do not respect the EU’s rules, and that the toughest measures would only be used in exceptional circumstances.”

Elsewhere, Reuters reports that, even before the Google’s internal document was leaked, Pichai and Breton “exchanged views in a video-conference call late on Thursday, the third this year.” The Google document “outlined a 60-day strategy to attack the European Union’s push for the new rules by getting U.S. allies to push back against Breton.”

Breton said that, after Pichai apologized, he told Pichai that, “if you need to tell me something, my door will always be open.” According to a source, Pichai, who said he hadn’t seen or sanctioned the document, added that “he would engage directly with Breton if he sees language and policy that specifically targets Google.”

But Breton also warned Pichai that, “the Internet cannot remain a ‘Wild West’: we need clear and transparent rules, a predictable environment and balanced rights and obligations.” He told Pichai that, “Europe’s position is clear: everyone is welcome on our continent — as long as they respect our rules.” In the past three years, Vestager has “levied fines totaling 8.25 billion euros ($9.7 billion) against Google … for abusing its market power to favor its shopping comparison service, its Android mobile operating system and its advertising business.”

Related:
EU Commission Seeks Feedback on New Data Transfer Tools After Court Ruling, Reuters, 11/13/20
Apple’s iOS Ad-Tracking Targeted by European Privacy Campaigner, Engadget, 11/16/20