This content is not available in your region

Germany, France, Dutch want more say over tech giants' start-up deals

Top U.S. antitrust lawmaker targets Big Tech with new bills -sources
Top U.S. antitrust lawmaker targets Big Tech with new bills -sources   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021
By Reuters

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS -Draft rules targeted at Alphabet unit Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple should be beefed up to allow regulators to vet their acquisitions of start-up rivals, Germany, France and the Netherlands said on Thursday.

The joint statement by German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire, French Junior Minister Cedric O and Dutch Economic Affairs Minister Mona Keijzer came as EU countries and lawmakers prepare to debate the European Commission’s proposed rules.

Tech giants have faced criticism from some for so-called killer acquisitions where they buy nascent rivals with the goal of shutting them down.

Regulators should use the proposed Digital Markets Act (DMA) to address this issue, the ministers said.

“First, setting clear and legally certain thresholds for acquisitions by gatekeepers of targets with relatively low turnover, but high value,” they said.

“Second, adapting the substantive test to effectively address cases of potentially predatory acquisitions.”

They said the proposed rules should allow leeway for EU countries to tackle so-called online gatekeepers and anti-competitive behaviour.

The draft rules could come into force next year once the Commission, EU countries and EU lawmakers have thrashed out a common position.

France also wants the European Union to toughen up rules on illegal content by forcing technology firms to systematically hand over illegal content they have removed or blocked from their sites to authorities.

France has proposed that online hosting services be obliged to store illegal content for at last six months, and transfer it to law enforcement authorities in the relevant country, according to drafts of its amendments seen by Reuters.

The move would reinforce the oversight powers of individual members states, although that could raise hackles if there are concerns about too many regulators jostling within the EU.