France and Netherlands Ask for an EU Authority to Monitor Major Tech. Players

On Thursday, France and the Netherlands asked for the creation of a European Union authority to regulate and keep a check on large tech companies such as Google and Facebook, whose dominance provides them effective gatekeeper status on the internet.

The Digital Services Act

The move amplifies pressure on European Union Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who currently is working on a draft regulation, called as the Digital Services Act that focuses on setting some basic rules for data-sharing and how digital marketplaces work.

In a joint statement, French junior minister Cédric O and his Dutch counterpart Mona Keijzer stated that such an authority should be able to safeguard tech company platforms from curbing access to their services “unless they have an objective justification.”

“These platforms can hinder the entry of new companies and limit the freedom of choice for consumers and entrepreneurs,” stated Keijzer, the Dutch state secretary for economic affairs and climate policy.

“Our common ambition is to design a framework … to address the economic footprint of such actors on the European economy and to be able to ‘break them open’,” said O, who manages digital transition and electronic communications in the French government.

Data Sharing

The European Commission is being very strict against U.S. tech giants. This can be attributed to the antitrust cases resulting in decisions that subsequently failed to boost competition due to the long and time-consuming process that typically takes many years.

Gatekeepers, such as companies with bottleneck power or strategic market status, will not be permitted to utilize data collected on their platforms to target users unless this data is shared with rivals, as per the drafted regulation.

The power of digital gatekeepers such as Google and Amazon that host other businesses on their platforms was one of the issues discussed on Thursday at an online meeting of EU digital and telecoms ministers hosted by Germany.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, chairing the meeting, stated that ministers would also talk about the prospected rules for artificial intelligence and a declaration to support a European Cloud Federation that would foster projects such as the Franco-German Gaia-X initiative, which looks for reducing Europe’s dependence on dominant U.S. cloud computing companies.