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15 October 2020

FT: France and Netherlands join forces to back EU move against tech giants

Joint position paper says breaking up large companies is ‘on the table’

US tech giants are facing the threat of an EU attempt to break them up after France and the Netherlands jointly issued a call for the bloc’s competition authorities to take pre-emptive measures as they prepare sweeping legislation to curb the companies’ market power.

Cedric O, France’s digital minister, and Mona Keijzer, the Netherlands state secretary for digital affairs, have signed a position paper calling on regulators in Brussels to take swift action against emerging tech giants and existing “gatekeeper” platforms — including options to break them up. Proponents of curbing the power of Big Tech argue that structural separation of big platforms would diminish their dominant position and help smaller rivals thrive.

The paper urges regulators to explore measures including forcing the likes of Facebook and Apple to allow their users to take their private data to a competing platform or banning companies such as Google from promoting their own services at the expense of smaller rivals. Paris and The Hague have traditionally held divergent views on how to regulate the tech industry, with the French government leading the push for stringent laws against everything from illegal content to strict data protection measures. The Netherlands has historically taken a more liberal approach, but has joined a call for tough enforcement of competition rules to prevent tech giants favouring their own services to crowd out rivals and “entrench” their market dominance.

Mona Keijzer, the Netherlands state secretary for digital affairs, said: ‘Breaking up big companies can be a possibility’ © Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters Ms Keijzer said regulators should aim for rules that prevent platforms from becoming “too big” in the first place. But added: “Breaking up big companies can be a possibility.” “Breaking up [companies] is on the table. But this is the ultimate remedy,” said Mr O. “France and the Netherlands have different cultures and come from different positions. But we have a common interest, from a sovereignty point of view, from a competition point of view to regulate tech players.”...

more at FT

© FT plc

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