EU countries agree on common position on new rules for US tech giants

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BRUSSELS: EU countries agreed on Thursday on a common position on new rules to limit the power of US tech giants and force them to do more to control their platforms against illegal content.

However, they will have to work out the final details with EU lawmakers, who have proposed stricter rules and higher fines.

Frustrated by the slow pace of antitrust investigations, EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager proposed two sets of rules known as the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act targeting Amazon, Apple, the Google Alphabet Unit and Facebook.

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The DMA has a dos and don’ts list for online gatekeepers – the companies that control data and access to their platforms – bolstered by fines of up to 10 percent of global revenue.

The Digital Services Act (DSA) forces tech giants to do more to tackle illegal content on their platforms, with fines of up to 6% of global revenue for non-compliance.

The common position adopted by the EU countries follows the main points proposed by Vestager, with some adjustments, with the European Commission as the main enforcer of the new rules despite an initial French proposal to give more power to national watchdogs.

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Negotiations are expected to start next year and the rules are expected to be adopted in 2023.

“The proposed DMA shows our willingness and ambition to regulate big tech and hopefully will set a trend in the world,” Zdravko Počivalšek, Slovenian Minister for Economic Development and Technology, said in a statement.

The changes agreed by EU countries include a new obligation for technology companies that strengthens the right of end users to opt out of basic platform services, shortens deadlines and improves the criteria for appointing controllers.

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Luxembourg, where Amazon is headquartered in Europe, welcomed the agreement which designates national watchdogs as the primary responsibility for enforcing DSAs for companies based in their countries.

“Luxembourg welcomes the fact that in general the country in which the intermediary is established remains responsible for the application of the harmonized DSA rules, in particular through closer cooperation with the other Member States and the Commission – except when ‘these are the very big players,’ he said in a statement.

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