EU lawmakers back rules to curb Big Tech

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The European Parliament on Wednesday approved its proposal for major EU legislation to impose unprecedented restrictions on how tech giants do business.

Lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favour of their version of the Digital Markets Act, aimed at slapping far-reaching rules on behemoths like Meta/Facebook, Alphabet/Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft.

The landmark legislation should give the EU unprecedented powers to act quickly against these tech "gatekeepers" and impose a strict list of Do's and Don'ts on their most dominant platforms.

The final law, along with the companion Digital Services Act regulating online content, will be thrashed out with EU member states in the coming months in the hope of completing negotiations on a final law next year.

A key parliamentary committee approved its proposal for the Digital Service Act on Tuesday and it is set to be voted on by all lawmakers in January.

Big and other interests are lobbying furiously to influence the final outcome for the laws, and member states will weigh in until the end with their own national priorities.

The negotiations with MEPs will be presided by France, which has made delivering the new rules into law a major priority of its six-month EU presidency that begins on January 1.

In detail, the parliament's version strengthened the proposals put forward by the EU's executive and agreed by member states, including pushing for interoperability between different messenging services.

It also looks to beef up the powers of national competition authorities, with key member states Germany and France eager to not leave all the power to the European Commission in Brussels.

The European Consumer Organisation said the proposal would "give consumers a greater share of the benefits of digital services" and called on member states to stick to the changes made by lawmakers.

"For example, the Parliament's amendments would give consumers more choice over which social networks and instant messaging services they use and prevent tech giants from using 'dark patterns' to distort consumers' choices," it said in a statement.

"It is crucial the EU sets the standard to the rest of world by making sure the digital economy works to the benefit of consumers rather than to the exclusive benefit of the ," it said.

© 2021 AFP

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