Netherlands, Germany and France want to regulate tech acquisitions

Get a free Techzine subscription!

Draft rules intended to govern companies like Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon should be tightened to allow regulators to vet acquisitions of start-ups, according to Germany, France, and the Netherlands.

The assertion was made in a joint statement by German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier and his counterparts Bruno Le Maire (France’s Minister of the Economy and Finance), Cedric O (French Junior Minister), and Mona Keijzer (the Netherlands’ State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy).

It comes as the European Union and lawmakers prepare to debate the proposed European Commission rules.

Big bad corporations

Tech giants have come under fire for anti-competitive practices, breaking anti-trust laws, illegal data collection, and making predatory acquisitions, among other crimes. The acquisitions they make have come under scrutiny since they are usually done to kill rivals before they get too big.

The ministers asserted that regulators should use the Digital Markets Act (proposed) to tackle the problem, saying that it is imperative there be clear and legal thresholds for how acquisitions of low turnover but high-value companies are bought.

Another step they proposed would be to adopt the substantive test to address predatory acquisitions effectively.

Leeway for bloc members

The ministers said that the proposed rules should have some leeway for how countries in the bloc tackle the internet giants and their relentless anti-competitive behaviors and strategies. The draft will come into effect next year, after the commission, countries in the EU, and lawmakers find common ground.

France also would like for the bloc to beef up rules on illegal content by forcing tech companies to systematically hand over illegal content that has been removed or blocked from their sites to authorities.

France’s moves are aggressive and could be more effective but they are likely to raise concerns about too many regulators within the bloc.