Why the EU is drawing up a ‘hit list’ of major Big Tech players like Facebook and Google

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The list will be skewed toward U.S. companies such as Facebook or Google, considering the dominant role they play in the global technology industry.

AFP via Getty Images

The European Union is in the process of establishing a list of major internet companies that would be subjected to new and tougher regulations, in a bid to force them to change their business practices, the Financial Times said on Monday.

  • The new rules may notably force the biggest internet companies to share data with their smaller competitors, and be more transparent on how they gather information, according to the business newspaper.
  • The European Commission is seeking new powers to sanction companies with excessive market powers, including forcing companies to sell some units or, as a last resort, breaking them up.
  • The list will as a matter of fact be skewed toward U.S. companies such as Facebook
    or Google,
    considering the dominant role they play in the global technology industry.
  • Europeans have separately long been seeking to increase the amount of taxes paid locally by the big internet players, with some countries such as France and the U.K. having already gone ahead with their own measures without waiting for the global agreement currently being discussed within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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The outlook: The plans would add to the trade dispute with the U.S., which withdrew from the OECD talks in June. Expect more tension ahead, with Brussels planning higher levies on U.S. imports after Washington last year hiked tariffs on $7.5 billion worth of European goods, in retaliation for Airbus state subsidies.

Some of the tension may subside if the U.S. chooses a new president in three weeks’ time. But not all of it will go away, since the clash of trans-Atlantic interests doesn’t solely depend on the identity of the White House tenant.

Read: EU offers ‘new trans-Atlantic agenda’ to the U.S., whoever is next president

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