Landmark EU rules aimed at curbing the power of tech giants could be agreed between lawmakers and EU countries as soon as April.
Although the rules have faced some obstacles, lawmaker Andreas Schwab told Reuters that he is optimistic that an agreement could be reached in record time for a key piece of legislation.
Known as the Digital Markets Act (DMA), the rules proposed by EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager just over a year ago set out a list of dos and don’ts for online gatekeepers – companies that control data and access to their platforms – reinforced by fines of up to 10 per cent of global turnover.
The law targets Apple, Alphabet’s Google, Facebook parent Meta, Amazon and Microsoft, and needs approval from EU lawmakers and states before it can become law.
However, an ongoing point of contention is the European Commission’s role, with some insisting on the EU executive as the sole enforcer and with veto power, while EU countries want national watchdogs to have more say and no veto power for the Commission.
Schwab said lawmakers will not compromise on a proposal that would allow regulators to impose structural remedies such as the breakup of any tech giants which breach the rules, even though EU countries are not keen on it.
Still, there is room for compromise, he said, with all sides eager to adopt rules that could set a global standard.
The news comes alongside a more general clampdown on big tech in Europe, with competition and watchdogs becoming increasingly willing to dish out hefty fines to US tech firms.
This also holds true on the other side of the Atlantic, where just this afternoon Facebook has agreed to pay $90m to settle a decade-old privacy lawsuit accusing it of tracking users’ internet activity even after they logged out of the social media website.