France and the Netherlands yesterday called for a European Union authority to step in and introduce stricter regulations for large tech companies like Facebook and Google. The two companies, especially, are so dominant that they have effectively become the internet’s default gatekeeper.
France and the Netherlands’ move puts more pressure on Margrethe Vestager, the Commissioner, who is preparing the new Digital Services Act that will govern data-sharing and make sure that marketplaces remain fair and open.
The two countries’ proposal wants to see some pre-emptive action to prevent big tech companies from grabbing power.
During the same time, a gathering of EU ministers was discussing artificial intelligence and cloud computing. But the France-Dutch proposal overshadowed the slated discussion. The French junior minister Cédric O and his Dutch counterpart Mona Keijzer delivered a joint statement.
They said that an authority should be tasked to prevent the tech companies from blocking access to their services unless they can provide objective justification.
Keijzer said that these platforms could actively prevent new companies from entering the market and limit consumers’ and entrepreneurs’ choices. On the other hand, Cedric said that the common ambition shared by their proposal is a framework that will address the economic footprint of these companies in Europe.
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A European internet
As a response, the German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said that the discussion is about upholding European values and behaving like a single market.
Currently, the European Commission is taking a hard stance against U.S. tech giants, driven by antitrust inquiries. The companies holding power on strategic markets are problems that most European countries feel should be solved sooner rather than later.
25 of 27 EU members signed a declaration to create a European cloud federation. The two that didn’t sign will sign soon.