EU, Britain to toughen rules, fines for tech giants

Big tech companies face hefty fines in the European Union and Britain if they treat rivals unfairly or fail to protect users on their platforms, in proposed regulations unveiled Tuesday by officials in Brussels and London.

The EU outlined the long-awaited, sweeping overhaul of its digital rulebook while the British government released its own plans to step up policing of harmful material online, signaling the next phase of technology regulation in Europe.

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Big Fines and Strict Rules Unveiled Against ‘Big Tech’ in Europe
Authorities in the European Union and Britain built momentum on Tuesday for tougher oversight of the technology industry, as they introduced new regulations to pressure the world’s biggest tech companies to take down harmful content and open themselves up to more competition.

In Brussels, European Union leaders unveiled proposals to crimp the power of “gatekeeper” platforms like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, which policymakers argue deserve more oversight given their outsize influence. The proposed E.U. laws would require the companies to do more to prevent the spread of hate speech and sale of counterfeit merchandise, and disclose more information about how services like targeted advertising work.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/15/technology/big-tech-regulation-europe.html

EU Digital Services Act set to bring in new rules for tech giants
The European Union is set to unveil new rules it says will “overhaul” the digital market, including how tech giants operate.

A pair of laws – the Digital Services and Digital Markets Acts – will be announced later on Tuesday.

They are expected to be the biggest revision in 20 years, focusing on competition and making platforms responsible for hosted content.

There are also likely to create heavy fines for violations of the rules.

The rules are being spearheaded by commissioners Margrethe Vestager and Thierry Breton, both of whom have a history of strong rhetoric against the biggest tech giants – as commissioners for competition and the internal market respectively.
https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-55307115

EU reveals plan to regulate Big Tech
Big tech firms face yearly checks on how they are tackling illegal and harmful content under new rules unveiled by the European Commission.

Fresh restrictions are also planned to govern their use of customers’ data, and to prevent the firms ranking their own services above competitors’ in search results and app stores.

The measures are intended to overhaul how the EU regulates digital markets.

Large fines and break-ups are threatened for non-compliance.
https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-55318225

Europe threatens to break up Big Tech if it doesn’t play by new rules
Officials across Europe on Tuesday unveiled legislation that would give regulators sweeping new powers to take on US tech giants, threatening huge fines and raising the prospect of breakups or bans for repeat offenders.

The European Commission released a set of draft policies that would force companies to change their business practices. It amounts to the most aggressive legislative effort to rein in companies such as Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook to date, according to industry experts.
https://edition.cnn.com/2020/12/15/tech/digital-services-act-europe-google-facebook/index.html

Europe fit for the Digital Age: Commission proposes new rules for digital platforms
The Commission has proposed today an ambitious reform of the digital space, a comprehensive set of new rules for all digital services, including social media, online market places, and other online platforms that operate in the European Union: the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act.

European values are at the heart of both proposals. The new rules will better protect consumers and their fundamental rights online, and will lead to fairer and more open digital markets for everyone. A modern rulebook across the single market will foster innovation, growth and competitiveness and will provide users with new, better and reliable online services. It will also support the scaling up of smaller platforms, small and medium-sized enterprises, and start-ups, providing them with easy access to customers across the whole single market while lowering compliance costs. Furthermore, the new rules will prohibit unfair conditions imposed by online platforms that have become or are expected to become gatekeepers to the single market. The two proposals are at the core of the Commission’s ambition to make this Europe’s Digital Decade.
https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_2347

Statement by Executive Vice-President Vestager on the Commission proposal on new rules for digital platforms
Today, we present two proposals that are milestones in our journey to make Europe Fit for the Digital Age: the Digital Services Act, and the Digital Markets Act.

The two proposals serve one purpose: to make sure that we, as users, as customers, as businesses, have access to a wide choice of safe products and services online, just as well as we do in the physical world. And that all businesses operating in Europe, that can be big ones, that can be small ones, that they can freely and fairly compete online, just as they do offline. Because this is one world. Whether from our streets or from our screens, we should be able to do shopping in a safe manner. Whether we turn pages or scroll down, we should be able to choose and trust the news that we read. And of course, what is illegal offline is equally illegal online.

I will say a few words about the two proposals and of course, Thierry as well, and I hope we will be able to take questions on and for you to meet your deadlines.
https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/statement_20_2450

Online harms law to let regulator block apps in UK
UK watchdog Ofcom is set to gain the power to block access to online services that fail to do enough to protect children and other users.

The regulator would also be able to fine Facebook and other tech giants billions of pounds, and require them to publish an audit of efforts to tackle posts that are harmful but not illegal.

The government is to include the measures in its Online Harms Bill.

The proposed law would not introduce criminal prosecutions, however.

Nor would it target online scams and other types of internet fraud.
https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-55302431

Ofcom to regulate harmful content online
The Government has decided to appoint Ofcom as the regulator for online harms in the UK.

This means we will take on new responsibilities to protect children and vulnerable people when they are online and give everybody greater confidence to enjoy the huge benefits of being online safely.
https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/latest/features-and-news/ofcom-to-regulate-harmful-content-online

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