EU announces draft policies to curb ‘power’ of global hi-tech giants

*A draft European Union called the Digital Services Act would now require leading social media firms and e-commerce platforms to comply with a new set of rules guiding their operations

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

In a bold move to make the big tech firms to comply with specified rules so as to keep their ‘power’ and global influence in check, the European Commission (EU), the executive division of the Union has released two draft policies that would force the major tech companies to change their operations, or risk penalties.

ConsumerConnect reports that a draft EU legislation called the Digital Services Act, unveiled Tuesday, December 15, 2020, would now require leading social media firms and e-commerce platforms to remove illegal and harmful content from their platforms, .

A second proposal, called the Digital Markets Act, also would require certain firms ─ those who have ascended to a role of “gatekeeper” in the industry ─ to comply with a list of a list of dos and don’ts in order to keep their power in check.

For example, a company like Apple wouldn’t be allowed to rank its own products and services higher than others on its displays, agency report stated.

Margrethe Vestager, EU Commissioner leading the charge on tech issues, in a statement disclosed that the fresh regulations were formulated to keep global technology giants from unfairly stifling competition.

The EU Commissioner said: “The two proposals serve one purpose: to make sure that we, as users, have access to a wide choice of safe products and services online.

“And that businesses operating in Europe can freely and fairly compete online just as they do offline.

“The important thing here is with size comes responsibility.”

Report noted when the new rules take effect, firms that don’t heed the rules could face fines of up to 10 percent of their global annual revenues.

However, in cases where rules are breached systematically, companies could be required to sell parts of their business.

The proposals, which could take years to enact, are expected to receive pushback from the companies that would be subjected to the fresh guidelines.

Karan Bhatia, Google’s Vice-President of Government Affairs and Public Policy, in a statement said: “While we will review the Commission’s proposals carefully over the coming days, we are concerned that they appear to specifically target a handful of companies and make it harder to develop new products to support small businesses in Europe.”

Facebook also remarked that it believes the EU proposals are “on the right track to help preserve what is good about the Internet.”

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