Big Tech law proposals slowed in Europe by parliamentary squabbles

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Attempts by the European Union to curtail the activities of Big Tech companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook are progressing at a slow pace, with lawmaker infighting potentially weakening and delaying proposals.




The European Commission introduced two pieces of legislation in December 2020, taking aim at Apple and other Big Tech firms operating in the European Union. While the Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act offered ways to increase competition and reduce the power of the tech giants, progress on bringing the acts into law are being hampered by fighting between politicians.

The disputes over the rule changes could be sufficient enough to delay their implementation by years, reports the Financial Times, potentially until after current EU competition and digital policy head Margrethe Vestager exits her post in three years time.

"It sounded like we had agreed but that is not the case at all," said German MEP Evelyne Gebhardt in a September debate. "We are a long way from having a common position on this."

The main dispute is over determining what companies should be affected by the legislation. While some, including lead European People's Party Group MEP Andreas Schwab, want to focus on the biggest platforms, others want to widen the scope to affect more digital services.

"If the threshold is too low, it would also capture a number of traditional companies," warned Schwab. "But this law is not for the general economy but it is specifically to target digital gatekeepers that are shutting down markets."

Schwab wants to go after firms with market values in excess of 80 billion euro ($92.6 billion), and to take aim at only core digital services of each company. Meanwhile Socialists & Democrats, the second-biggest group in the European parliament, want to cover video streaming services, music streaming, cloud services, and mobile payment platforms, by using a 50 billion euro ($57.9 billion) marker.

"I fear new gatekeepers will rise instantly once you have dealt with Google and the rest," said Dutch MEP Paul Tang. "We need the legislation to be futureproof. We have waited more than 20 years to reform the rules of the internet, and so we will need to make it strong enough for the upcoming 20 years."

Tang added that the legislation should also affect firms that offer multiple services "otherwise Big Tech will know how to bypass the laws with their army of expensive lawyers and this will be a missed opportunity."

There is a hope that there will be a resolution before EU states, the parliament, and the European Commission gather early in 2022, as well as ahead of France's presidential elections in April. France is the holder of the rotating presidency of the EU for 2022.

Europe isn't the only region enduring slow progress on the path to regulate Big Tech companies. In the United States, despite the leaking of internal Facebook documents and increased scrutiny by lawmakers, it is thought that a regulatory battle similar to that against Big Tobacco could take years before law changes make a real difference.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    That's because what they are trying to do, much like in the U.S., is target specific firms for no reason OTHER than being quite successful .They are also ignoring the realities of digital platforms, how they work and how they are different from traditional marketplaces and at the same time drawing the wrong conclusions on what differences matter most. 
    lkruppwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 11

    Catch 22 - The requirement to tax the very successful companies but at the same time encourage them to stay local.

    Government spending inevitably only goes up due to the people (us) demanding more (we all believe something should be done about …… fill in whatever bugs you).

    We will eventually cross the barrier - more being sucked out of the economy than goes in.

    The US has traditionally swung between raising domestic taxes and encouraging trade (lowering import duty) to lowering domestic taxes and taxing those pesky importers (or more correctly the consumers of the imports).

    Neither solution solves the problem - governments have to spend less overall - but who will vote for that.

    Here endeth the lesson

    elijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 11
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 6,690member
    That's because what they are trying to do, much like in the U.S., is target specific firms for no reason OTHER than being quite successful .They are also ignoring the realities of digital platforms, how they work and how they are different from traditional marketplaces and at the same time drawing the wrong conclusions on what differences matter most. 
    Not at all. The keyword here is 'gatekeeper'. Not success per se. 

    The reasons they are being targeted should be clear to anyone. 



    muthuk_vanalingamelijahgprismatics
  • Reply 4 of 11
    The mindboggling thing is that, while it's almost impossible to introduce a third platform for mobile operating systems on an international scale, you would think that companies like Netflix faces a lot of competition, because a streaming service is pretty personal: you customize it to your own taste and you aren't dependent on your friends, unless you care about watching "trending" shows and movies (which is fine to do, but no one should ever feel pressured to use a specific streaming service).

    For a lot of people in the world it might be hard to avoid using popular communications apps from third-party app services, seeing how there are ecosystems popping up around the apps, but at its core it should be possible to alter the balance of market share for social media apps to a great extent.

    When people say they are using those "mainstream popular services" (Facebook-owned apps usually), the main argument to continue using the service is that "everyone is using this service – so I can't be the one person switching". But, here's the thing: how far does that chain of dependency reach? From one perspective, I would theorize that as few as 500 people could change the Big Tech landscape by jumping to a new platform, bringing with them 100 million people in a domino effect (it wouldn't happen over night – except in extreme cases, like Telegram getting 70 million new customers over the course of 1 day).

    Has anyone thought about this .. how many people it would take to shake it all up? 50? 500? 25 000 .. a million people?



    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 11
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,189member
    Please fight more so the proposals are eliminated altogether!

    "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the Government, and I'm here to help."
    —Ronald Reagan
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 11
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,484member
    jdw said:
    Please fight more so the proposals are eliminated altogether!

    "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the Government, and I'm here to help."
    —Ronald Reagan
    Unfortunately there are a large number of people today that firmly believe the government’s job is to take care of them from cradle to grave, to provide them with their every need or desire, and to confiscate other’s wealth to provide those desires. Hence the whining to forgive student loans and other now entitlements.
    williamlondonjdwwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 11
    "I fear new gatekeepers will rise instantly once you have dealt with Google and the rest," said Dutch MEP Paul Tang. "We need the legislation to be futureproof. We have waited more than 20 years to reform the rules of the internet, and so we will need to make it strong enough for the upcoming 20 years."
    Why not make it strong enough for the next 100 years?

    Yeah, yeah, it's a rapidly evolving field, blah, blah, blah. You're not solving the technical issues, you're solving the people issues - and people don't change that much. Build something with as few loopholes as you can manage, rather than something you can use to blame someone else down the track.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 11
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,792member
    avon b7 said:
    That's because what they are trying to do, much like in the U.S., is target specific firms for no reason OTHER than being quite successful .They are also ignoring the realities of digital platforms, how they work and how they are different from traditional marketplaces and at the same time drawing the wrong conclusions on what differences matter most. 
    Not at all. The keyword here is 'gatekeeper'. Not success per se. 

    The reasons they are being targeted should be clear to anyone. 



    You do know that the term "gatekeeper" was by design, to only include the 5 biggest US tech company (Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, Facebook, Microsoft), don't you? Well, maybe not. Or do you actually think that the criteria that the EU commission came up with to define a "gatekeeper" under the EU Digital Media Act, just by coincidence, only includes the 5 biggest US tech company.

    The term "gatekeeper" as defined by the EU under the DMA, will NEVER include the largest pharmaceutical company in the World, Roche of Sweden. Or the largest auto maker in the World, Volkswagen of Germany. Or the largest airliner manufacturer in the World, Airbus of France. Or the largest food and beverage company in the World, Nestle of Switzerland. Or the largest alcohol beverage distributor in the World, Diageo of the UK.  And this was by design. And by design, the DMA mainly uses market cap to determined  the size of the company that can be considered a "gatekeeper". Not that a company is the largest or most profitable one, in its market class. 

    https://www.ft.com/content/49f3d7f2-30d5-4336-87ad-eea0ee0ecc7b

    So the EU commission first targeted the 5 most successful tech in the US and then came up with the criteria for what you consider is the "keyword" ..... "gatekeeper". It was not the other way around. 


    edited October 2021 thtwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 11
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,189member
    lkrupp said:
    jdw said:
    Please fight more so the proposals are eliminated altogether!

    "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the Government, and I'm here to help."
    —Ronald Reagan
    Unfortunately there are a large number of people today that firmly believe the government’s job is to take care of them from cradle to grave, to provide them with their every need or desire, and to confiscate other’s wealth to provide those desires. Hence the whining to forgive student loans and other now entitlements.
    Same here in Japan with the new prime minister talking hard about "the need for wealth redistribution."  Rather than slow/adjust their ridiculous spending, they reach into the pockets of everyone, take as much as they like, then say it's for the greater good.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 11
    avon b7 said:
    That's because what they are trying to do, much like in the U.S., is target specific firms for no reason OTHER than being quite successful .They are also ignoring the realities of digital platforms, how they work and how they are different from traditional marketplaces and at the same time drawing the wrong conclusions on what differences matter most. 
    Not at all. The keyword here is 'gatekeeper'. Not success per se. 

    The reasons they are being targeted should be clear to anyone. 



    Except for the fact that it’s not — unless you mean the part about parallel competitors trying to use the legal system to muscle in on other lucrative markets leveraging their power and influence in their primary market to tie the two together. (And you could make some strong arguments that for governmental players this is less about competition and more about burnishing careers, adding regulatory fines to cash strapped budgets, bureaucratic self-justification, lobbying and political “donations”.)

    If you were paying attention to any of the legal cases, the key factor is establishing the scope of the  effected market. Everything flows from that definition. That’s why Facebook and Google theoretically fit the definition of gatekeeper and displaying anti-competitive behavior, and Apple does not. They dominate the entire market for search and advertising, and use that power to exclude competitors in an open market. The arguments against Apple only apply if you narrowly tailor the market to only IOS Apps and devices. And that won’t ever pass a legitimate judicial review. Think about it — does IDC track Apple devices as their own separate, unique market that has clone-like or work-alike competitors?  Or does it compare it to the general market of devices? (Btw - I believe this was Apple’s real goal with the look and feel cases between them and Samsung, etc. The prevention of clones.)

    Let’s put it this way, gate-keeping isn’t illegal. If it were, every landlord would be in trouble. Governments themselves are both gatekeepers, and crucially — market monopolists with exclusionary power, which have created continuous and self-reinforcing monopolies in multiple markets. Still not illegal, or in many cases, unethical. 

    So … when any one says “it’s obvious”, I hear “I have no real expertise, experience, or proof — just a knee-jerk opinion”. Please at least give us a well reasoned argument that shows some sort of depth or breadth of understanding and nuance. Otherwise, you’re just kind of dog-piling. 

    PS - Zephyr Teachout’s books are a good foundation for this subject. 
    edited October 2021
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