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EU sets out curbs on tech firms like Amazon, Google, more

The European Commission has proposed a new set of rules promising to reform the “digital space”, including social media and ecommerce platforms

|Dec 16|magazine4 min read

The European Commission has proposed a new set of rules promising to reform the “digital space”, including social media and ecommerce platforms.

The Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act promise more protections for consumers, while, the commission says, improving innovation thanks to a modernised set of rules.

Among the measures suggested are yearly checks on standards around removing illegal and harmful content, restrictions on the use of customer data, and measures to prevent companies ranking their own services above others.

In a press release, Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe fit for the Digital Age, 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. This is one world. We should be able to do our shopping in a safe manner and trust the news we read. Because what is illegal offline is equally illegal online.”

Behind the rules is the threat of large fines - up to 10% of a company’s worldwide turnover - and even potential forcible breaking up, with the EU referring to “structural measures” that might involve divesting businesses.

Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton said: “Many online platforms have come to play a central role in the lives of our citizens and businesses, and even our society and democracy at large. With today's proposals, we are organising our digital space for the next decades. With harmonised rules, ex ante obligations, better oversight, speedy enforcement, and deterrent sanctions, we will ensure that anyone offering and using digital services in Europe benefits from security, trust, innovation and business opportunities.”

The proposed rules represent a strengthening of existing rules that recently saw Twitter fined €450,000 for breaking data protection rules 

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