Overriding reservations of US BigTech, the European Parliament has ratified a new set of laws that will more closely regulate these companies and curb ‘illegal' content online.
The move is not just seen as a blow to US tech majors but shall also change the future of how technology is consumed across Europe. Meanwhile, the EU MEPs has approved the final versions of the Digital Markets Act, focused on ending monopolistic practices of tech giants, and the Digital Services Act, which toughens scrutiny and the consequences for platforms when they host banned content.
“With the legislative package, the European Parliament has ushered in a new era of tech regulation,” German MEP Andreas Schwab, a key backer of the laws said.
The DMA will have major consequences for Google, Meta and Apple, and a handful of online “gate-keepers” that must now do business according to a list of do's and don'ts intended to ensure that smaller rivals can thrive.
This should do away with the complicated court battles needed to enforce the EU's competition laws that drag on for decades and fall short in challenging the giants.
The DMA passed with 588 votes in favour and only 11 against in a sign of the acute apprehension towards tech giants across the political spectrum.
The DSA will target a wider range of internet actors and aims to ensure real consequences for companies that fail to control hate speech, disinformation and child sexual abuse images.
The digital world “has developed a bit like a western movie, there were no real rules of the game, but now there is a new sheriff in town,” Danish MEP Christel Schaldemose said adding, “We have now taken back control of tech. We now have democratically determined rules for tech.”
The DSA also passed easily with 539 votes in favour, 54 against and 30 abstentions. With this now both laws now require the final approval by the EU's 27 member states, which should be a formality. The legislation had faced lobbying from the tech companies and intense debate over the extent of freedom of speech.
It will however, be interesting to see how the new legislation is implemented as worries continues to hover over the European Commission, the EU's executive arm in Brussels, that is claimed to lack the means to give sharp teeth to its new powers.
In the past the EU has struggled to enforce its pioneering data protection law, known as the GDPR, with regulators facing criticism for going too slowly.