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07 February 2019

Report: Tech Giants In Europe’s Crosshairs

Facebook, Amazon and Google are facing significant challenges to their business models in Europe over the next week, as regulators gear up for battles over competition and copyright, the FT has reported today.

EU Governments are still in negotiations over the Copyright Directive which includes a publisher’s right to give press publishers across Europe an enhanced legal standing for protecting their investments in original and creative content.

The News Media Association and News Media Europe have pushed hard for the publisher’s right to be included in the new copyright regime joining forces with trade associations in Europe to highlight the clear benefits for the creative industries of a publishers' right, in the face of a sustained lobbying campaign from the tech giants to water down the proposals. 

Separately, Germany’s Federal Cartel office is expected imminently to publish its findings from a three-year-long investigation into whether Facebook’s ability to collect huge amounts of data harms competition and is expected to lay down new rules about how Facebook should process third-party data, the FT reported.

The German watchdog has also launched an investigation into Amazon’s “double role” as a retailer and marketplace for sellers, on whether the company abused its market power to set illegal contract terms, the FT reported.

In Europe, EU commissioner Margrethe Vestager has put together a task force of academics to produce a report on data collection by the end of March.  “We’re already looking very closely at whether companies are using their control of data to harm competition. We need to be sure that the competition rules are ready for a world where data becomes even more vital,” Ms Vestager said.

The FT also reported that Ms Vestager is “looking at how Amazon uses third-party data,” and whether that leads to unfair competition although the probe was at a “very early stage” and that there had been no decision yet on whether Amazon had done anything wrong.

In the UK, politicians including Culture Security Jeremy Wright, Labour Party Deputy Leader Tom Watson and Minister for Digital Margot James for have marked Safer Internet Day on Tuesday by calling for tougher regulation and oversight of the tech platforms to make the online environment safer for users.   

The Government is set to publish its Online Harms White Paper which will aim to set out clear expectations for companies to help keep their users, particularly children, safe online.