Large Tech Turns Its Lobbyists Free on Europe, Alarming Regulators

On Tuesday, representatives from the European Union, led by Ms. Vestager, will unveil some of the world’s most far-reaching technology regulations. The rules are aimed at so-called gatekeeper platforms such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, which play an overwhelming role in the digital economy.

Expected changes include rules for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, owned by Google, regarding the moderation of user-generated content. Other requirements would encourage businesses to learn more about how services like Google and Facebook’s digital advertising products work. The largest companies may be forced to share some data with small competitors. Tighter competition rules could prevent companies from treating their services preferentially over small competitors and limit their ability to enter new product categories.

“There is a lot to lose for the technology industry with the new legislation,” said the Bank of LobbyControl.

The laws are unlikely to be passed before 2022, giving companies plenty of time to influence the debate.

In October, the leaked document showed how Google was trying to influence the European debate before a draft was even introduced. It contained plans to recruit US officials from embassies across Europe and from the United States sales representative’s office. Talking points have been suggested for Google supporters, such as the risk to the economy during the pandemic.

After details of the document were published by Le Point, a French magazine, many European officials expressed outrage and decided to push the new legislation. In a meeting following the leak, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, apologized to Thierry Breton, an EU commissioner who helped draft the new rules.

Still, Google and its allies seemed to be pushing the ideas on schedule. In Washington, the Internet Association, a trade group representing Google and other tech giants, sent comments to the US trade agent calling on the federal government to “act decisively and quickly to prevent the rapid expansion of harmful initiatives in Europe.”

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