Lobbyists for the big tech giants have been beavering away in Brussels in an attempt to minimise the impact of proposed legislation to limit the monopoly power of companies such as Apple, Twitter, Facebook and Google.
However, it would appear on Tuesday, December 15, that their efforts have had a limited effect so far.
The Digital Markets Act will aim to tackle unfair competition in the sector, and the Digital Services Act will force tech companies to take more responsibility for illegal behaviour on their platforms.
Both sets of regulations will enable the imposition of large fines, up to 10 percent of their global revenue for deliberately breaking new competition rules and up to six percent for inadequate policing of their platforms.
It gets more serious than that. A draft of the Digital Markets Act includes the provision that big tech companies that are fined three times within a five-year period – labelling them repeat offenders – will enable the EU to break up their businesses into smaller units.
The tough rules represent more than just general concern over monopoly power. There is widespread resentment in Europe that big tech firms deliberately avoid paying taxes by off-shoring in low tax jurisdictions.
Big tech will have some time to adapt. The proposed rules will go to the European Parliament to be debated, giving the army of lobbyists plenty of time – possible two years – to try to undermine the principles of fighting big tech and the extent of the remedies proposed.