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The EU pursuing powers to regulate US tech giants

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While the US government is cracking down on big software apps it views as security threats, the EU appears to have big US-based technology companies in its crosshairs as well. EU commissioner Thierry Breton revealed to The Financial Times that it is pursuing the ability to either force big tech companies to sell off its European operations or enforce massive penalties for these companies who store data outside of the EU and avoid big taxes in the process.

The report reveals that regulation around these measures is still being drawn up and so there is likely going to be a lot of changes and a fair amount of time before we see anything of this nature take effect. It is an interesting development in the global tech game where the EU wants to take greater control of the role technology plays in its area and, in particular, the security and revenues generated by it.

There is a feeling from end-users of these platforms that they are too big to care. We need better supervision for these big platforms, as we had again in the banking system,

It’s not clear exactly how the EU would leverage laws like this just yet, though Breton did indicate that it would only apply in extreme circumstances, without revealing what those circumstances are. I’m in favour of greater regulation in general when it comes to how data, security, and privacy are handled, and also the revenues earned in foreign markets as a result. Perhaps we’ve seen big tech companies get away for far too long with some of these practices and this could be the start of greater accountability and a future blueprint for where the industry is headed.

The first proposals for this new regulation are expected to be submitted to the European Council before the end of the year, with finalisation likely only towards the end of the next year.

Last Updated: September 21, 2020

14 Comments

  1. konfab

    September 21, 2020 at 17:04

    US could very well turn around and do the same to EU companies, ala what they did to Huawei, WeChat and Tic Tok.

    No more android or IOS integration for cars for example. This type of thing can get really nasty.

    Reply

    • Gavin Mannion

      September 21, 2020 at 17:32

      How quickly do you think iOS and Google would lose their stranglehold on the market if they did that though?

      Reply

      • konfab

        September 21, 2020 at 17:41

        They wouldn’t because they are the best systems on the market.

        Just remember the EU’s attack against Microsoft back in the day did precisely nothing to affect the company. It the likes of Google and Apple that actually knocked MS down a peg or two.

        Reply

        • Gavin Mannion

          September 21, 2020 at 17:45

          Highly debateable,

          This is the graph of browser market share, the EU started it’s investigation into Microsoft’s browser market share in 2009.

          Obviously it is not the only aspect but in the EU they were forced to offer everyone a chance to swap browsers and that definitely helped push Chrome ahead

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ab4c85cf2e046ae6e472714beb089fc742cfbe235ed2f82b44d359f23234614f.png

          Reply

          • konfab

            September 21, 2020 at 17:55

            Chrome was only released in 2008. And look at the graph, I think the beneficiary of the policy was Firefox. But that was pretty fruitless as Chrome was a better browser.

            Chrome was also behind a large amount of the mobile growth as well.

            That graph is funny because I am typing this on Edge, which is based on Chrome. 😛

          • Gavin Mannion

            September 21, 2020 at 17:55

            yeah I’m on Edge as well.. it’s great

  2. Gavin Mannion

    September 21, 2020 at 17:37

    For Google, Twitter and Facebook I think a really simple option for the EU is to bring in a law that any complaint about a post/article would need to be addressed by an EU based employee within 6 hours.

    The only way the tech companies could do that is by hiring an army of EU citizens to respond which will at least bring money back into the area.

    And watch how quickly they come up with a great way to automate the blocking of the horrific crap we see on social media once it starts costing them hundreds of millions of Euro’s.

    I have no problem with companies doing well, I have a real problem with these tech titans earning billions while not paying back.

    Reply

    • konfab

      September 21, 2020 at 17:45

      If you want these companies to play ball, simply make it easier to do business in the EU. Tax law is intentionally designed to be as complex as possible. Pretty much everyone on both sides of the political isle would agree with the following:
      Simplify the tax code and close the loopholes in exchange for a lower rate of tax.

      Everyone that is, except politicians who are lobbied by companies to create exceptions, subsidies etc

      Reply

      • Gavin Mannion

        September 21, 2020 at 17:55

        Sorry I feel this is overly simplistic. Literally no company will pay the full tax without enforcement. US tech companies place their European headquarters in low tax countries then fudge the books to funnel money back into America.

        Laws have become complex due to companies constantly doing everything in their power to hide income and obfuscate their incomes.

        I do agree tax laws should be simpler but there are societal differences between the EU and US. The EU is far more interested (in comparison) in society and uplifting people while the American mantra is the more you earn the better you are as a human being.

        The EU needs to unfortunately force their more socialist views on America as hyper capitalism is destroying entire regions now

        Reply

        • konfab

          September 21, 2020 at 18:04

          That is hilarious. You state that you “have no problem with companies doing well”, but you want to take their money with taxes.

          If you think socialist views are so fantastic, then why don’t you make me a partial owner of this website so I can share in some of the profits? You don’t want to be seen as greedy now?

          Reply

          • konfab

            September 21, 2020 at 18:09

            /rant over.

          • Gavin Mannion

            September 21, 2020 at 18:19

            Try be a little more open to discussion and less emotional, there isn’t a binary between capitalism and socialism.

            Your other comment about Amazon is a perfect example.

            I pay UK tax, I pay a LOT of UK tax and yet people who work for Amazon UK are on benefits because they aren’t paid enough so my tax that I pay is going to support Jeff Bezos’s company because it wouldn’t survive in the UK in it’s current form if it was forced to pay fair rates.

            They also take from high street shops and close down competitors by undercutting them as they don’t pay fair tax or salaries which means more of my tax goes to supporting people who have lost income due to the illegal actions of a US tech company.

            So yes they have stolen money from people, they’ve stolen money from me and every other tax payer on this island.

            Then we can move over to Facebook and Twitter who helped steal my future by allowing illegal political posts to be seen and millions to be controlled while also not paying their fair share of tax.

            Microsoft is the least abusive to me personally but are by no means innocent in their money laundering

          • Gavin Mannion

            September 21, 2020 at 18:29

            oh and it’s cute you think a SA gaming website makes profit https://media3.giphy.com/media/UoS4rnPeZUrOBEhDVc/giphy.gif

        • konfab

          September 21, 2020 at 18:09

          Also, these companies are not obliged to “pay anything back”, as that implies that they have somehow stolen money from people. Amazon making it easier to buy stuff online isn’t stealing anything from anyone. .

          Reply

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