Internet companies could face bans if they break the rules: EU industry boss

Internet companies could face bans if they break the rules: EU industry boss

Tech companies’ services could be banned from the European market if they do not follow European Union regulations, European industry chief Thierry Breton told the German weekly Welt am Sonntag, as the European Commission finalizes rules on Internet companies. Breton will announce a new draft of rules known as the Digital Services Law and the Digital Markets Law together with the European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, on December 2.

The rules will establish a list of dos and don’ts for gatekeepers (online companies with market power) forcing them to share data with rivals and regulators and not to promote their services and products unfairly.

The new draft of the rules comes as critics of US tech giants, which include companies and industry bodies, question the EU’s rulings against Alphabet’s unit Google, saying they have failed to curb its allegedly anti-competitive behavior. Some want the EU authorities to go beyond simply ordering companies to stop such practices. The draft rules would allow the EU to ban companies or part of their services from the bloc of 27 countries as an extreme option.

Until the draft rules are adopted, EU antitrust and digital regulators currently do not have the power to impose such bans. “The strict rules must be enforced,” Breton told Welt am Sonntag. “To do this, we need the right arsenal of possible measures: impose fines, exclude companies or part of their services from the single market, insist that they separate if they want to maintain access to the single market or a combination of all of them.”

He added that these sanctions would only apply to companies that do not respect EU rules, and that the toughest measures would only be used in exceptional circumstances. In a sign of how much tech companies fear the new regulation, Google’s unit last month launched a 60-day strategy for US allies to reject the EU’s digital chief.

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