EU Eyes Stronger Rules For Big Tech Than Smaller Firms

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The European Union (EU) is looking to implement two-tier legislation in its new Digital Services Act to put greater responsibility on Big Tech’s shoulders to help remove more illegal content and fight counterfeit items, Financial Times (FT) reports.

The rules would mark the first new changes to the bloc’s internet regulations in 20 years.

Brussels’ plan is to adopt “asymmetric measures” in which the biggest companies are subject to more stringent rules than smaller rivals, according to an executive summary from the Digital Services Act seen by FT.

The use of asymmetric rules “will ensure that smaller emerging competitors are boosted, helping competitiveness, innovation and investment in digital services, while targeting specific harms emerging from large platforms,” FT quoted from the executive summary.

By doing this, the EU could also see an increase in cross-border digital trade by 1 to 1.8 percent, FT writes.

While the executive summary didn’t detail how the asymmetric measures would be scaled, a separate piece of legislation called the Digital Markets Act says that the criteria for “gatekeeper platforms” could include the number of EU countries the companies trade in, revenue size and user numbers, FT writes.

There have been critical comments about the idea of asymmetric rules already, with YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan saying he thought the rules should apply to all countries.

The move is intended as a pushback to the allegations commonly leveled at Facebook, Google and other such companies that they use their massive power to roll over smaller rivals. The tech giants have feared all year that new EU rules would target them more harshly — and FT’s reporting seems to indicate that could happen. They’ll likely argue that the new rules are just more of the aggressive steps Brussels is taking against their platforms.

Another reason those companies have bucked against the rules: regulators will likely also craft new rules about big companies sharing data to allow more transparency and competition.

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