US hesitates, but Europe follows China and ‘handcuffs’ Big Techs – 03/25/2022 – Nelson de Sá

Washington’s Brookings warned late last year that China’s regulation of platforms was “a message to American politicians.”

That “apparently one reason” for the measures was to preserve state power. “Another rationale for the change, however, is that it makes Chinese platforms more competitive and stimulates innovation.”

But American platforms resisted, with arguments that echo in Washington. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet, Google and YouTube, got right to the point:

“I worry that if you regulate for the sake of regulating it will have a lot of unintended consequences, including implications for our national security.”

The platform war effort over the past month, helping to cancel the other side of the information, ended the expectation that the White House and Capitol would hear the Chinese message.

But Brussels listened and, on Thursday night (24), after eight hours of parliamentary negotiation and ending more than a year since the first project was presented, “European Union puts the handcuffs on Big Techs”, in the call of the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

The EU has reached consensus on a Digital Markets Act that will ban “certain practices used by large platforms that act as ‘gatekeepers'”, information gatekeepers, all Americans.

The legislation, which still needs to pass final approval, “targets large companies that provide so-called ‘core platform services’ that are more prone to unfair business practices, such as social media or search tools.”

For example, “large messaging services such as WhatsApp, Messenger or iMessage will have to open up and operate integrated with smaller messaging platforms.” It will be possible to exchange texts and videos from one application to another.

In China, this “interoperability” has led apps like the messaging service WeChat and the shopping site Taobao to chat, open their “walled gardens”, not without some resistance from the giants that control them, Tencent and Alibaba.

In Europe, by law, if the gatekeeper resists, he will be fined 10% of his global annual revenue the first time and 20% the second time.

Other measures of the Digital Markets Law: companies that operate on the platforms will be able to access their data collected by them, in the case of sellers on Amazon; and privileges to products from the platforms themselves, in the case of Google searches, will be prohibited.

Alphabet was one of the first to react, almost threatening: “We are concerned that some of these rules could reduce innovation and choice [de produtos] available to Europeans”. But he said he would do it.

This time, Washington did not defend its champions against European regulators. And American outlets like the Wall Street Journal have reminded Meta, Alphabet, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft that it would be “useless to fight.” The law is due to take effect in October.


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