Theresa May Says She’s Ready To Start Classifying Facebook And Google As News Orgs

Eric Lieberman | Tech and Law Reporter

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s administration said Tuesday that its members are mulling over the idea of classifying Google and Facebook as official news organizations.

The potential decision appears to signal that Europe, specifically the U.K., is dealing with the tech giants’ growing power with more urgency.

“We are looking at the role Google and Facebook play in the news environment,” said a spokesman for May, according to Reuters, adding that the work was part of an ongoing project to create a digital charter establishing what is proper online conduct for firms and individuals.

Google and Facebook dominate the digital ad revenue market because advertisers pay them massive amounts of money for their enormous reach, which stems from content they each put on their respective platforms, like news stories. Some argue that they have essentially created a hegemony over the main source of revenue for news outlets and publications, choking the content creators out in the process.

The two tech giants are expected to grab roughly 63.1 percent of the U.S. digital ad spending in 2017 combined, an uptick from a prior estimate of 60.4 percent, reports eMarketer, a market research company. Facebook and Google, in total, account for roughly 90 percent of the growth in new advertising revenue. The companies dwarf all other corporations in the industry.

In comparison to the U.K. and Europe, American skepticism of U.S. tech companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple is just starting to percolate as key concerns from Democrats and Republicans are now coinciding.

Conservative lawmakers in Washington D.C. have worried for some time that a consolidation of power will lead to the squashing — whether overt, discreet, or indirect — of viewpoints not held by the usually liberal Silicon Valley. Liberal legislators’ worries are relatively recent, as reports surfaced in the past couple months that the companies were used by Russian clientele who likely wanted to influence the 2016 election or general political climate in the U.S. They also seem to now brood over the swelling influence of the conglomerates, which stokes fears of pernicious monopolies, duopolies, and triopolies in industries like news distribution, cloud computing, and search engine software. (RELATED: This Startup Wants To Take Some Power Away From Tech Giants)

Europe, on the other hand, seems to be more serious with dealing with the ostensible problems, whether for better or worse. The European Commission, for example, announced earlier in the month that it will be taking Ireland to court due to the country’s failure to collect roughly 13 billion euros ($15.3 billion USD) from Apple. The U.K. is reportedly considering legislation that would allow government officials to fine particular companies substantial amounts of money if they are hacked and later determine the companies didn’t do enough to stop it.

Google has also been retaining top-notch legal representation after European Union regulators in June levied a record fine of $2.7 billion against the company.

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