back to article Europe passes sweeping antitrust laws targeting America's Big Tech

After nearly two years of legal wrangling, the European Parliament on Tuesday passed the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act, teeing up a showdown between the continent and US tech giants. With the two sets of laws approved, the measures move to the European Council for passage. If green-lit, as is expected over …

  1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

    "if the rules are actually enforced"

    Big if. We haven't seen any 4% of gross GDPR fines yet have we?

    1. steelpillow Silver badge

      Re: "if the rules are actually enforced"

      The EU have a way of patiently gathering evidence for several years, then building their legal case for a while longer, before pouncing.

      Meanwhile the dot-coms will continue illegal as ever.

      Let us hope that when it finally falls, the scale of the EU hatchet will horrify even the richest and greediest twonks in the world.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: "if the rules are actually enforced"

        They have to actually win the case too. Remember when the EU cracked down on Ireland's generous tax treatment for Apple? Fought that for years, forced Apple to put the money in escrow, only to see it overturned.

        They'll only strike fear into the hearts of tech companies if they WIN some fat GDPR judgments. Likewise for this new bill, by the time they investigate and collect information, go to court, and have a decision it will be a decade from now. Facebook could be bankrupt by then (hey, a man can dream!) in which case good luck collecting anything from their carcass.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: "if the rules are actually enforced"

          "Facebook could be bankrupt by then (hey, a man can dream!) in which case good luck collecting anything from their carcass."

          Or, more likely, have morphed into a "new entity" which will make all the right PR noises while denying any relationship with "old Facebook" and therefore no responsibility for any wrong doing or fines incurred.

          1. ecofeco Silver badge

            Re: "if the rules are actually enforced"

            Like Meta?

  2. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Return on investment

    > If the [European] Commission lacks the necessary resources and in-house expertise to ensure compliance,

    Just make sure that the fines which will (inevitably) be handed out are large enough to cover the cost of enforcement.

    That would include staffing the relevant regulatory offices and paying for the in-house lawyers to create the "bite"

    And if there is money left over, then just put that against all the unpaid taxes from those companies.

    1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

      Re: Return on investment

      More than the cost of enforcement. It has to be significantly more than the profit from breaking the law. Otherwise fines are just another business expense.

    2. M.V. Lipvig Bronze badge

      Re: Return on investment

      Fines are fones, and taxes are taxes. Fines are not applied against owed taxes, ever. Fines are always in addition to taxes, and that's the way it should be, otherwise big biz would work out a way to have fines cover their taxes, and theb consider the fines as cost of doing business.

      If fines don't hurt, fines don't matter.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Return on investment

      "Just make sure that the fines which will (inevitably) be handed out are large enough to cover the cost of enforcement."

      I'm in two minds about that. In the case of huge companies breaking the law in way that may affect millions of people, it sounds like a good idea. In the case of general upholding of the law, as a basic principle, not so much. Can you imagine the fine for littering if that had to go towards the total cost of policing such that policing became cost-neutral? Every time the cops get a pay-rise, "productivity" would have to increase to cover the increased running costs. No thanks :-)

  3. Wade Burchette

    Not good

    From the article -- 'The DSA "sets clear obligations for digital service providers, such as social media or marketplaces, to tackle the spread of illegal content, online disinformation and other societal risks," according to a statement issued by the EU Parliament.'

    And who decides what is "disinformation and other societal risks"? Why, the same people who created the rules in the first place. Which means that this rule will be used to shut down politically inconvenient speech sooner, not later. Never in history have the people who censored been the good guys. The answer to bad speech is always more speech, never less. This is because the truth can survive the most vicious attack thrown against it, whereas the lie needs a strong fortress of propaganda and censorship to protect it. This rule will quickly be used to hide truths politicians do not want known.

    1. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Re: Not good

      > who decides what is "disinformation and other societal risks"?

      The courts will. When the case goes to prosecution. Not the politicians.

      1. Yoshi

        Re: Not good

        The courts interpret and enforce the law. Who writes the laws? Politicians in most cases

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not good

          and who elects the politicians? The people. So, blame the people....

          1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

            Re: Not good

            We don't have to look too far to see where the endgame of such regulations can lead. By your logic, it's the Russian people's fault that they keep re-electing the same corrupt people who then restrict what information they are allowed to hear - e.g. by restricting TV to only showing pro-Russia "news", where Putin is a hero for freeing Ukrainians from the tyranny of Nazism, etc., etc.

            The argument that people can simply elect a different government only holds where there is actually choice, and where the people actually have the information to be able to make that choice. Once one side holds the keys to controlling that information, they are only one step away from engineering their re-election.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Not good

          "The courts interpret and enforce the law. Who writes the laws? Politicians in most cases"

          But laws, especially these days, seem to be very woolly and grey such that no one really knowns what is or isn't illegal until it's tested in court. At which point the judge(s) and/or jury get to decide how the law actually works. Well, in theory. There's always the highly paid lawyers funded by deep pocketed $big_Corp who will appeal and appeal and appeal before eventually settling out of court, leaving us back where we started with a woolly and grey law, unproven in court.

    2. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Not good

      "who decides what is "disinformation and other societal risks"? "

      The EU is far more clued in to this than you would think. For example it's initiating action against its own members (at various stages, Hungary, Poland, Malta... ) for not upholding democratic norms, part of which is the about the government control of media.

      The people writing these rules in Brussels are aware of the risks, and are, I hope, working on remedies not only with respect to the tech giants, but also with respect to the governments of individual countries, some of which, as you point out, will try and twist the new laws to their advantage.

    3. HildyJ Silver badge

      Re: Not good - It's your choice

      You can side with the megacorps or the governments.

      If you don't like either, you at least have a chance to change the governments. The megacorps don't care about you.

      If you're worried about censorship, the megacorps have been doing that for years.

      At this point I trust the EU more Ihan trust Suckerberg and his friends.

    4. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Not good

      Thank god none of that happens now!

      Oh wait...

      As for who decides, please take some college classes on ethics and common law. Right and wrong are not very hard concepts except to people who are ethically "challenged."

      1. Yes Me Silver badge

        Re: Not good

        people who are ethically "challenged."
        But some of those get elected to jobs in, say, the Kremlin or 10 Downing St.

  4. localzuk Silver badge

    Global problems

    As far as I can tell, we're dealing with global issues, but trying to solve it with piecemeal, localised, solutions. Seems like it will never work properly.

  5. theOtherJT

    They are not equal...

    It is only once we have a dialogue of equals that we will be able to get the respect the EU deserves

    ...that's a really damning statement. One party is a legally recognized collective of national governments, the other is a loose association of large private companies.

    The EU should not be treating these entities as equals. They should be treating them as "do as your damn well told or we fine you into oblivion."

    However one feels about the EU in general it's absurd we have reached a place where it sees itself as the junior position in a negotiation with a private enterprise. That's just not how laws ought to work.

    1. hoola Silver badge

      Re: They are not equal...

      Sadly correct and this just shows the amount of power a handful of largely US corporations have.

    2. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: They are not equal...

      "They should be treating them as "do as your damn well told or we fine you into oblivion.""

      Ideally, and in any other sphere, maybe. But the data behemoths could effectively shut down such a swathe of businesses in any nation state that states have to tread very carefully when 'negotiating'.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: They are not equal...

        Which just goes to show the risks of using other peoples' computers to perform critical tasks.

        1. Yes Me Silver badge

          Re: They are not equal...

          All your data belong Cloud

      2. Sub 20 Pilot

        Re: They are not equal...

        They seem to be able to knock up laws and rules to control us, the general tax paying public, at the blink of an eye.

        Nothing to stop them doing the same for the big companies. Jail for the top people who run these places if they try to blackmail a nation state or states by any means involving tech.

        What is the purpose of entities like the UN, EU etc. if they are not dealing with this ? Sorry, rhetorical question. Most are bloody talking shops that suck billions out of the taxpayers while creating more red tape for them while studiously ignoring the parasites.

        As an aside, if one of these behemoths did shut down services it would soon wake people up to what the rest of us have been aware of for years. The fallout would be spectacular, people would wake up to reality and whoever did it would hopefully be shafted out of existence.

        For decades the UK gov has been trying to get people to work from home for environmental reasons. Most people were not interested until Covid forced the issue. Now huge numbers are happy with it so sometimes it takes external action to force an issue.

  6. Kev99 Silver badge

    We can only hope.

  7. Dr Paul Taylor

    A Brexit Opportunity, at last!

    You can be sure that the "UK" "government" would have made sure that none of this would have happened.

    Just in case anybody misinterprets that, I am in favour of this action by the EU Parliament and regret that I will not see the benefit of it.

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