EU looks to curb powers of Big Tech with new Digital Services Act

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By Katy Dartford
In this Aug. 11, 2019, file photo an iPhone displays the apps for Facebook and Messenger.
In this Aug. 11, 2019, file photo an iPhone displays the apps for Facebook and Messenger.   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Jenny Kane

Brussels is preparing rules that could force Big Tech companies to share their huge banks of customer data files with smaller rivals.

The Digital Services Act, which is expected to be in place by the end of this year, is the first big overhaul of European internet regulation for two decades.

Javier Espinoza, EU Correspondent for the Financial Times in Brussels, told Euronews that the EU believes these platforms have become "too big to care".

An early draft of the act said the likes of Amazon and Google “shall not use data collected on the platform . . . for [their] own commercial activities . . . unless they [make it] accessible to business users active in the same commercial activities”.

Brussels is hoping to set international standards for the digital economy and tackle the advantages enjoyed by Big Tech.

"They've come up with a list of dos and don'ts for platforms," said Espinoza. "For example, they want to prevent platforms from self-preferencing their own services."

"They also want to force companies to allow you to delete apps that you may not want on your smartphone, that are manufactured by Apple that you cannot currently delete."

"At a very basic level, they want to give consumers and smaller rivals more power than they have and limit the power of these huge companies."

Tech giants are likely to be rocked by the scale of the EU’s ambitions to curbing companies’ powers, with 30 paragraphs of prohibitions or obligations.

Espinoza said the act will give people more choice and "reassurance" that platforms are doing what they are supposed to do, such as how they control potentially illegal or harmful content on their platforms.