back to article EU law threatening 'commercially painful changes' for tech out tonight

The European Union is to launch a legislative process that is set to enforce greater competition among the leading digital platform providers. The lawmakers plan to rein in the dominance of big tech firms with a set of measures aimed at "gatekeeper" powers related to the services and platforms they provide. Hotly tipped for …

  1. steviebuk Silver badge

    I assume

    we'll miss out on this due to some idiots voting for Brexit.

    When will they also crack down on Right To Repair. We should have the rights to repair our own kit and the likes of John Deere, Apple etc shouldn't demand "You don't own your kit, you just rent it. Want it repaired? Take it to one of OUR repair shops, NOT the local one round the corner that can do just as good if not better job".

    1. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: I assume

      If you want legislation like this in the UK, ask your MP to raise it in Parliament and get it written, voted on and brought into law.

      It's called democracy, which I appreciate is a bit scary after so long in the EU.

      1. gforce

        Re: I assume

        Democracy .... in the UK. Next joke

      2. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: I assume

        The EU is democratic. Something Brits might have a better handle on, had they not voted the likes of Farage as their MEPs.

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: I assume

          Voting for Farage as an MEP got him out of the country and annoying the Fren everyone else, that's a double win for perfidious Albion.

          You'll notice he never came remotely close to winning an MPs seat in the UK.

          1. Lars Silver badge

            Re: I assume


            "You'll notice he never came remotely close to winning an MPs seat in the UK."

            I assume you don't grasp that he won no MPs seat due to a very undemocratic "first past the post" in a two party system while he become a MEP in a very democratic system.

            Yes I know it's hard to admit.

            1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

              Re: I assume

              I think you need to define just what you mean by democratic.

          2. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: I assume


            "You'll notice he never came remotely close to winning an MPs seat in the UK."

            And yet due to popular support got the brexit referendum done.

            1. Lars Silver badge

              Re: I assume


              Yes he is superb as a snake oil salesman, and should have tried for a role in Hollywood instead of Washington.

              Socrates warned us about "sweet shop owners" and a demagogue like Farage.


              1. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: I assume


                "Socrates warned us about "sweet shop owners" and a demagogue like Farage."

                A politician that stuck to his guns and principals? How terrible. Anyway good news is we are out now.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: I assume

                  "Anyway good news is we are out now."

                  Hear, hear. Now let's move on to the next grift. Climate change denial/fossil fuel shilling or taking Russian money to further Putin's goals. Which will Farage and the Tufton Street astro turfers be peddling next...?

              2. Justthefacts Silver badge

                Re: I assume

                You display your lack of education in everything you write.

                We have no idea what *Socrates* said. The only record we have is Plato’s dialogues and Xenophon. Plato just puts his own words into Socrates mouth, which often disagree at quite basic levels with what Xenophon says Socrates said, so it’s clear that neither are even an attempt to portray Socrates real views. Perhaps you should actually read Plato’s Republic to start with, and also Gorgias. It’s clear you haven’t.

                But you are correct at least that both Plato and Xenophon, aristocrats of a slave-owning society, thought democracy as a whole deeply flawed. Plato’s Republic is basically an apologia for his idealised state Kallipolis, ruled by a philosopher-king (what an amazing coincidence!). Xenophon was banished from Athens for fighting on behalf of Sparta, a full-blooded fascist regime.

                Plato is great on how to be a good human, in a way that cold-blooded Aristotle is not. But for politics and democracy, you should read Aristotle, not Plato. Plato’s Republic is fairly vile. Everyone should have read it, but no honourable person can read Republic in the 21C without their stomach churning.

        2. nobody who matters Bronze badge

          Re: I assume

          "The EU is democratic".

          The EU pretends to be democratic, but it really isn't.

        3. LybsterRoy Silver badge

          Re: I assume

          -- The EU is democratic -- You missed off the joke icon

          1. Citizen of Nowhere

            Re: I assume

            You're missing the Paris icon off all of your posts ;-)

        4. Justthefacts Silver badge

          Re: I assume

          Few if any citizens know which MEP “political group” the party they voted for, or is affiliated to, let alone the policies of its bedfellows. By numbers, over one third of MEPs belong to either national fascist parties, or authoritiarian revolutionary communist ones. Historically, the unpleasant fact is that the majority of fascist states have been democracies, it has never been an aberration.

          So which is it: is the EU an area where the majority of its citizens know exactly what is going on, and are at least comfortable with fascism as part of their daily lives? Or did you all vote against fascism, and the system works to ignore that?

          One or the other. But you can’t have your cake and eat it. You are complicit.

        5. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: I assume


          "The EU is democratic."

          Even Joe Biden laughs at that-

      3. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: I assume

        "The EU is anti-democratic and scary. The UK is democratic and not scary. We can prove this by lobbying the British government so they do this good thing they are already doing in the EU."

        I mean, what?

    2. xuinkrbin.

      Re: I assume

      Apple doesn't claim you are "renting" the phones. Please stop lying.

      Also, you already have the right to repair. Apple will not come around and say "Oh, you used an unapproved screwdriver; we are taking this away from you". What Apple does say is, if you insist on having someone other than Apple -- or an approved technician -- repair your device, since Apple cannot guarantee the quality of the workmanship, such repair voids the warranty, as is the case with any other electrical device. Case in point: go and bodge your KitchenAid and see how far you get when you insist they honor the original warrant.

      1. PriorKnowledge

        You might as well be…

        I possess an iPhone but i am inclined to agree with the claim that it’s a glorified rental. When your phone is deemed end of life, Apple will eventually cease providing developers with ways to publish new versions of apps for it. Since you can’t run software without Apple’s blessing (through digital signatures) you now have no way to add or update software. Compare that to Android, Windows 10 Mobile or even the classic Blackberry OS where you still can even long after cell service is discontinued! Even MS-DOS still lets you install new software on the computer you own!

        With regards to repairs, components like cameras are paired with individual motherboards with no option of recalibrating them since Apple refuses to make the software to do so legally available. They have also bricked devices (with dodgy software updates) which were repaired using refurbished (as in genuine Apple) parts in the past, such as home buttons. Also, try replacing the battery with one which has not been blessed by Apple, even that has DRM.

        Essential parts supplied by third parties are unavailable on the open market because Apple puts strict contracts in place to forbid the sale of said parts to independent repair shops, even when those parts were not made by Apple or in some cases even specifically for Apple. They also refuse to provide board schematics and will try to sue anyone who tries to make detailed documentation available, even if said docs were created independently through studying the boards independently.

        I think it’s fair when people say you don’t own your iPhone.

    3. nobody who matters Bronze badge

      Re: I assume

      "....We should have the rights to repair our own kit and the likes of John Deere, Apple etc shouldn't demand "You don't own your kit, you just rent it. ...."

      Perhaps do some research before posting nonsense ;).

    4. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      Re: I assume

      Did you miss this bit? -- finally, the act may well set global standards for digital platforms, so its effects are likely to be felt well beyond the EU --

      Secondly you seem to be assuming that this will be a "good thing". Just like to cookie acceptance pop ups (yippee for I don't care about cookies) or GDPR.

      Is it going to mean lots of tech giants being created in the EU - nope, will it make live easier/better for the average punter - nope

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I assume

      But the fourteen million idiots responsible are a particularly a special type of idiot.

      They actually believed that raising barriers with the the EU to match the barriers with the rest of the world, would remove those barriers. (And didn't even bother to take the simple steps to check.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I assume

        Thumbs down from 2 out of the 14 million, already. :) :) :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I assume

          So does the difference in the thumbs down numbers represent those who have achieved self awareness after the first post?

  2. WarwickHunt

    So which massaging platform will WhatsApp users be able to send messages to? Will I have to install extras?

    1. EvaQ

      Telegram, Signal, .. any messaging platform?

      Far-fetched? Well, someone who uses gmail can mail to someone using outlook or his ISP's mail. Utter magic!

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Signal? Telegram? Far-fetch or Far-right?

    2. Ordinary Donkey

      More importantly how do I, as someone who wouldn't touch whatsapp with a ten foot pole, prevent whatsapp users from messaging me on other platforms?

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      The thundering noise you here is massed spammers jumping with joy.

  3. b0llchit Silver badge

    The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act puts the burden of proof on organizations ensuring they succeed in arguing an acquisition is lawful, as opposed to the government having to prove that it impacts competition.

    Wouldn't that encourage any acquisition to be sold using lobby fiction sales pitches and delusional fantasies of advantageous fantastic wonders for any and all citizen of the universe? And of course, using the appropriate dinner places to sell the pitch as proof that all is well.

    Anyhow, the government(s) still need to look into the acquisition, just like they do now. Relying on what companies say they will do and what actually happens are two quite different things. Regardless the burden of proof. You do not go back once a deal is made. They might pay a fine, which is probably calculated as cost of the deal and the responsible CxO levels will get a stern talking to. And nothing changes.

    If you really want some changes, then you have to incarcerate all CxOs at the first sign of trouble with no possibility of parole. But that would never happen, even when the faults and lies become obvious. No rules will have any significant effect as long as the leadership is not personally liable for any problem(s).

    1. Charles 9

      And the moment you try that, they'll just move out of your jurisdiction. What then?

      1. b0llchit Silver badge

        And how is that different from now? They do that already (f.x. tax).

        If the acquired one is a EU corp, then there is no discussion and local authorities can handle the case. Of course you need to have other "big" countries on the regime too. On the other hand, they could leave, but dropping a 400+M people market completely to get your out-of-jail card may be too much.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    So, painful changes, limited scope to reduce their impact, global standards ?

    What's there not to like ?

    As a consumer, obviously.

    As a multinational behemoth rolling in dough, there's plenty not to like, but I don't give a flying fig about that.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: So, painful changes, limited scope to reduce their impact, global standards ?

      I think I like it. Cross-platform messaging sounds like fun. If the content is standard format, then write a lightweight client. We'd then have a viable app that didn't come with all the spy & adware crap bundled into the official apps.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: So, painful changes, limited scope to reduce their impact, global standards ?

        Yes, but now you just have to get everyone else off the official apps that still do the stalking.

      2. Warm Braw

        Re: So, painful changes, limited scope to reduce their impact, global standards ?

        While I agree about the desirability, there'll be a mammoth argument about who controls the encryption keys, particularly for group communication.

        1. Michael

          Re: So, painful changes, limited scope to reduce their impact, global standards ?

          Finally a use for blockchain...

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: So, painful changes, limited scope to reduce their impact, global standards ?

            Or a virtual keyring. Who controls the keys should be the same as usual, ie the user, administrator or cryptocustodian.

            Basically anyone other than the service provider.

            Mechanism could be based around standard PKI. That would need abstraction or education. It would boost privacy and security, but might get the usual pushback any time encryption gets mentioned. Smart criminals would be encrypting their messages anyway.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: So, painful changes, limited scope to reduce their impact, global standards ?

        "Cross-platform messaging sounds like fun. If the content is standard format, then write a lightweight client."

        Start with email, make encryption standard rather than an add-on hardly anybody uses because hardly anybody else uses it.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    we'll miss out on this due to some idiots voting for Brexit.

    Or much more likely, the big tech firms just create an EU+UK product and leave it at that. We have the laws without being able to change them.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: we'll miss out on this due to some idiots voting for Brexit.

      US + UK version, the UK one won't require any data protection features

      1. nobody who matters Bronze badge

        Re: we'll miss out on this due to some idiots voting for Brexit.

        At present, it will require exactly the same data protection features as the EU one.

  6. JDPower666

    I'm onside purely for getting rid of uninstallable apps!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Which will simply be made part of the OS, like the browser that is at the heart of win32

  7. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse


    "WhatsApp, owned by Facebook parent company Meta, will be asked to ensure they have the ability to send messages to users of an entirely different messaging platform."

    I'm not sure that makes any difference as even if I was able to use Telegram or whatever to message friends who use WhatsApp, WhatsApp would still presumably get all of my user data. App use and popularity for this sort of stuff is driven by whomever shouts loudest and what is easiest to use - and unfortunately almost all of my non-IT contacts and friends use WhatsApp : which means that I still need to use WhatsApp.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm...

      And why would Telegram want to allow its users to use WhatsApp to send Telegram messages to other Telegram users, or to modify its app to send WhatsApp messages to WhatsApp users?

      They can mandate this all they want for Facebook, but unless the little guys go along with it nothing will change. Any interoperability with WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger means even more data going to Meta. I don't think they've thought through this law very well.

  8. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Great ..... an Incestuous Gang Bangers Ball. That'll Resolve to Solve Nothing Worth Knowing

    Set to begin today at 3pm CET (2pm GMT), the process involves a "trialogue" discussion between representatives from the directly elected European Parliament, the Council of the EU, made up of ministers from member state governments, and the European Commission, the executive branch made up of commissioners nominated by member-state governments.

    The title says it all. White noise candy for practically all of the virtually lost at see boys and girls. N’est ce pas?

  9. alain williams Silver badge

    What data do they take ...

    they must be forced to fully describe what data they take and what they do with it. Eg none of this sort of games by Google.

    Users must be allowed to say "no" to this data grab in a way that is just as easy as re-enabling it; the default should be "no".

    If this is broken the penalty should be a large fine AND jail time for the programmers & their managers all the way to the top.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: What data do they take ...


      Any app (or service) that collects data and sends it off device must describe exactly what data, why it is being collected, and have an option to opt in (opted out by default) unless said data is necessary. This must also account for any and all third party uses in connection with the app.

      Enough is enough.

      None of this "for diagnostics" crap. Necessary is, if a messaging app, the message the user wants to send, and an ID for checking if there are messages to collect. Location, phone number, address book, screen size, processor type, underwear colour, and amount of protein in the last meal are not necessary items of data.

      Does this mean it'll hit apps that pilfer user data by way of in-app advertising? Yup. And see, this is me giving a shit.

      Enough is enough.

      And +1 for the managers seeing jail time. Not necessarily the programmers (they're told what to do) but certainly the managers. And twice as long if the data collection was due to "a rogue programmer" as that implies there's absolutely no code auditing going on.

      Enough is enough.

      Icon, seems appropriate.

  10. G R Goslin

    Black and white rules?

    "the rules are pretty black and white with limited scope to reduce their impact once they are in force; ". Whatever are they thinking of? This is big business and the government, forever joined at the hip. There'll be tears before bedtime.

  11. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act

    I sometimes get the impression that they make the content of these laws up specifically to fit into the clever acronym they've chosen first.

    The ability to send messages electronically to any user on any device? It'll never catch on...................... Now, let me think, what was the number of my PRESTEL mailbox again?

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Commercially painful?

    Even if fully implemented and complied with, I doubt it will reach painful levels, probably just annoying.

    The problem is Newton’s first law: the law of inertia. Its description applies as much to people as it does to objects. People (and I don't include ElReg-istas since our status as people is tenuous) who already have a phone or PC already have email and search apps that they use and, even if given the choice, will continue to use them.

    For myself, I've got my search and email set up but the ability to delete bloatware would be nice but, again, most people never delete their bloatware, just add to it. Also, as I live in the US, none of this applies to me.

  13. xuinkrbin.

    I'm not sure what this is trying to accomplish. On iPhone, you can delete the built in apps already, use whatever e-mail application you like already, set your choice from a number of search engines already, etc., etc., etc. Is anyone claiming Android phones don't allow the same? Exactly what problems does this bill hope to solve?

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      So I can use Firefox instead of Safari?

      (and I mean real Firefox, not a rehashed version of the same WebKit that everybody is forced to use)

      1. Justthefacts Silver badge

        How will you do that?

        What device are you going to use? Apple would stop iDevice sales to the EU in a heartbeat.

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: How will you do that?

          You don't think throwing toys out of prams and abandoning a market as large as the United States might just put a dent in their prestige and, more specifically, their profits?

  14. schultzter

    If only

    > the ability to send messages to users of an entirely different messaging platform.


    Enough said.

  15. Justthefacts Silver badge

    Wrong question

    “If if the service is free, then you are the product”. If within the EU, you being the product is now illegal…..who is *paying* for all these free services? Google isn’t going to continue licensing Android for the EU market. Back to Nokia Meemo for you!

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Wrong question

      I remember a time when you used to get a shiny new computer with Windows pre-installed. Due to various dubious deals, it was factored into the cost of the machine. It came with an OS, and that OS ran and did stuff. You were not a product, your data belonged to you, and while you didn't "pay" for Windows, it certainly wasn't free.

      Same goes for Android. There's no reason why Android cannot be licensed to be supplied in EU hardware. The problem is not Android, the problem is the many tentacles that Google have pushed into the system. Their services are currently free (sort of, didn't they nobble Photos last year?) and that may be affected, but this shouldn't affect Android.

      And, yes, I'm well aware that modern Windows is full of spyware telemetry. This shit needs to be slapped down hard. Just because they can pilfer everybody's data doesn't mean they should. It's a blatant abuse of the trust that should be implied with regards the services they are providing (free or not). I mean, would you use a free email provider that archived your emails and dumped them on Pastebin? Of course not. Every free email service could do this, but they don't, because there are certain expectations regarding privacy.

      1. Charles 9

        Re: Wrong question

        Problem is, the math's changed. One-and-dones are old hat. There's no business like repeat business, simple as that. Unless you can extract every last erg from your business, someone who can will snow you under. Governments be damned, money can buy just about anything these days: even favors. If not the carrot, then the stick: the prospect of packing up and taking your tax revenues somewhere more friendly, and there will be somewhere more friendly out there, like low-overhead countries that don't care what anyone else thinks.

        Unless you can change that kind of calculus on a global scale, the big boys will know how to play the long game better than you.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like