EU invites tech leaders to talk about legislation

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European Union lawmakers have invited leaders of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet to Brussels to discuss future legislation for major tech companies.

The aim of the meeting is to discuss how to tackle problems related to competition and fake news. The EU is working on several laws in this area, with high penalties for violations.

Invitation

“The purpose of the planned hearing is to have an exchange with the chief executive officers of the four globally leading platform companies to learn about their current business models and future concepts as they face the challenges of altering market conditions,” reads the invitation held by Reuters.

“The event will contribute to preparing the members of the European Parliament for the upcoming discussions on potential new regulation for the digital sector. For all these reasons, we wish to clarify that this invitation is for the CEOs only.”

Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act

Under the leadership of antitrust commissioner Margrethe Vestager, the EU has been working for some time to try to limit the power of tech giants. Vestager is in favour of creating a fair marketplace within the EU. For example, Amazon should not have an unfair advantage in selling its products over other sellers using Amazon as a platform. This is covered by the Digital Markets Act, details of which were released in December.

Another part of the new regulations is the Digital Services Act. This consists of a series of laws that oblige tech companies to take into account ‘European values’, such as human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. For example, the companies must provide openness about the algorithms used to distribute online advertisements.

Currently, the European Parliament is discussing the proposed laws. From that consultation a final version of the proposal will follow, which will then have to be voted on by the EU member states. It will probably take at least another year before the laws actually come into force.

Tip: EC competition commissioner doesn’t see need to break up tech giants