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20 Sep, 2020 09:05

Technology giants may face TikTok fate as EU seeks to toughen up Big Tech regulation

Technology giants may face TikTok fate as EU seeks to toughen up Big Tech regulation

Struggling to make technology companies play by its rules, the EU may unleash measures similar to those the US imposed on TikTok, forcing them to sell some of their European operations or get out of the market altogether.

“There’s a feeling from end users of these platforms that they’re too big to care,” EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton told the Financial Times. “[Under] certain conditions, we may also have the power to impose structural separation.”

The official warned that large tech groups could also be excluded from the single EU market altogether, as part of the proposed measures. However, this would be a last resort, used only in extreme circumstances. 

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The element of business separation and deprivation of a large market resembles the Trump administration’s move against Chinese video platform TikTok. However, the EU’s reason is different – Brussels’ concerns are not about security threats, but market dominance. According to the FT, the measures would be enforced if the market position of tech companies threatens the interests of customers and smaller rivals. 

The European Commission is currently working on a Digital Services Act package – a set of rules aimed at modernizing the current legal framework for such services. To do this, it’s reviewing the responsibilities of digital services to protect users’ rights, and creating measures to ensure fair competition. Public consultations on the initiative finished last week. 

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“We need better supervision for these big platforms, just as we had in the banking system [after the financial crisis],” said Breton, who leads the work on the new Digital Services Act.

Punishment for non-compliance with the new EU regulations, which the bloc is to finalize by the end of the year, may range from penalties to the separation of some operations. Breton warned that firms may face tougher sanctions if they are preventing users from switching platforms or forcing them to use only one service. Brussels may also create a special rating system, allowing the public and stakeholders to review a firm’s tax compliance and assess the speed with which they take down illegal content, the FT said.

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