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Fresh Round Of Big Tech Regulations Could Force Breakups, Massive Fines In Europe

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Thomas Catenacci Energy & Environment Reporter
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The European Union introduced new legislation that could significantly hamper Big Tech companies’ operations across the continent via big fines and strict regulation.

European Union (EU) lawmakers introduced two pieces of legislation Tuesday aimed at reigning in Big Tech companies like Google and Apple, according to CNBC. The Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act were crafted to prevent “gatekeepers from imposing unfair conditions on businesses and consumers,” the EU said in a press release.

“European values are at the heart of both proposals. The new rules will better protect consumers and their fundamental rights online, and will lead to fairer and more open digital markets for everyone,” the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said in a statement Tuesday.

The legislation will apply to tech companies with 45 million or more users, which is 10% of the European population, according to the commission’s press release. The companies are considered “systemic” and will be subject to an oversight structure that includes a new board of “digital services coordinators” who will have supervisory and sanctioning powers. (RELATED: FTC Orders Big Tech Companies To Provide Operations Data)

One new rule prohibits companies like Google and Apple from “self-preferencing,” CNBC reported. This is the practice of a tech company promoting its other services on its own app store for example.

Another rule would force tech companies to allow users of their products to uninstall apps made by the company, according to CNBC. Violating such rules could result in a fine equalling 10% of a company’s annual worldwide turnover. (RELATED: ‘Oil Barons And Railroad Tycoons’: Big Tech Must Be Restructured, House Report Says)

“The two proposals serve one purpose: to make sure that we, as users, have access to a wide choice of safe products and services online. And that businesses operating in Europe can freely and fairly compete online just as they do offline,” Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president for the Europe Fit for the Digital Age commission, said in a statement.

Before the proposals are approved, the European Parliament and Member States will discuss and decide if the language will be adopted, according to the EU press release. If adopted, the rules will be enforced in the entire EU.

“While we will review the Commission’s proposals carefully over the coming days, we are concerned that they appear to specifically target a handful of companies and make it harder to develop new products to support small businesses in Europe,” Karan Bhatia, vice president of government affairs and public policy at Google, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement.

“We will continue to advocate for new rules that support innovation, increase responsibility and promote economic recovery to the benefit of European consumers and businesses,” he continued.

The Financial Times reported in October that the EU was secretly compiling a “hit list” of tech companies to target with regulations that would ultimately diminish their size and power. Meanwhile, the U.S. filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google on Oct. 20 alleging that its favorable search engine deals with phone manufacturers were illegal.

On Monday, the Federal Trade Commission ordered several tech companies to turn over that shows how they use Americans’ private information.

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Apple couldn’t be reached for comment.

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