Tuesday 15 December 2020 6:54 am

EU joins UK in rolling out sweeping new fines for tech giants

US tech giants could face fines of up to 10 per cent of their revenue under new draft EU rules set to be unveiled today.

The regulations, the most serious attempt at reining it companies such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple yet made by the bloc, come amid intense worldwide scrutiny on the role of such companies.

Read more: Fines, bans and directors liable: Government plans Big Tech crackdown

In recent years countries around the world have grown anxious about the influence that such companies wield, as well as the threat they present to competition.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager and EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton will set out the new rules later today.

It is expected that they will include a Digital Markets Act imposing fines of 10 per cent of annual turnover on companies in breach of regulations.

This will provide a list of basic dos and don’ts for companies, as well as classifying them according to their size and international presence.

In addition, a new Digital Services Act will target tech firms with more than 45m users.

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Under this legislation, firms will be required to do more to tackle illegal content, as well as cracking down on those who use the platforms to infringe on fundamental rights, influence elections, and spread misinformation.

The EU’s new regulations will be revealed at the same time that the UK announces its own set of measures to tackle tech giants.

Under these, which will be unveiled by Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden and Home Secretary Priti Patel today, Ofcom will be given the power to fine companies up to £18m, or 10 per cent of global revenue.

It will also have the power to block non-compliant services from being accessed in the UK and the legislation includes provisions to impose criminal sanctions on senior managers. 

Read more: The CMA sets out new regime for tech giants such as Google and Facebook

The proposals are part of the government’s response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation, which Dowden has hailed as a “new age of accountability for tech to protect children and vulnerable users”.  

Meanwhile, in the US, nine companies, including the above, have been ordered to hand over information as part of a probe into consumer privacy.