EU might force tech giants to share data with smaller rivals

The Digital Services Act draft also suggests that firms may be banned from giving their own services preferential treatment

The European Union might force US tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google to share their vast collection of customer data with smaller rivals, according to a new draft of the Digital Services Act seen by the Financial Times.

The new regulations, which aim to increase responsibility and liability for social media firms and the content on their platforms, are set to be proposed by the end of this year.

According to the draft, which reportedly includes 30 paragraphs of prohibitions or obligations, tech giants will be banned from using “data collected on the platform . . . for [their] own commercial activities . . . unless they [make it] accessible to business users active in the same commercial activities”.

It will also prohibit the so-called ‘gatekeeper’ platforms, which are in charge of online marketplaces, from using “data received from business users for advertising services for any other purpose other than advertising service”.

The draft also suggests that tech giants will be banned from treating their own services on their sites or platforms in a preferential manner that could disadvantage rivals. Companies might be prohibited from pre-installing their own apps on hardware devices, for example.

According to the FT, EU legislators might also force tech giants to allow users to uninstall any pre-installed apps on devices such as smartphones and personal computers. 

News of this regulation comes days after the EU internal market commissioner Thierry Breton told the FT that the Digital Services Act could have the power to exclude large tech companies from the single market altogether. However, it is anticipated that the tech giants won’t back down without a fight.

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Earlier this month, Google asked the European Commission to "clarify" its expectations towards tech companies regarding the Digital Services Act. The firm submitted a 135 page document calling for the EC to avoid a "one-size-fits-all" approach and hit back at the legislators’ choice to label tech giants as ‘gatekeepers’.

“In certain sectors, the platform may have market power; in others, it may be a new entrant or marginal player. The digital ecosystem is extremely diverse and evolving rapidly and it would be misguided for gatekeeper designations to be evaluated by reference to the position of an entire company or corporate group,” argued Google.

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