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New Digital Rules Could Allow EU To Ban Tech Services

European Union regulators may get new powers to ban internet companies that violate anti-competition rules, a top EU official told a German magazine, Reuters reported.

Proposed new guidelines for regulating big internet companies in the region of more than two dozen countries are scheduled for public unveiling Dec. 2. One of the two officials slated to present the proposed new rules, EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, told the Welt am Sonntag weekly that the time has come to give regulators the power to do more than publicly criticize internet giants, per Reuters.

“Strict rules must be enforceable,” Breton reportedly said. “For this we need the appropriate arsenal of possible measures: Impose fines, exclude companies or parts of their services from the Single Market, insist that they split up if they want to keep access to the Single Market. Or a combination of all of these.”

The Reuters report added: “In a sign of how much tech firms fear the new regulation, Google unit last month launched a 60-day strategy to get U.S. allies to push back against the EU’s digital chief.”

The new regulations are set to focus specifically on the largest players in the online world — companies including Google and Facebook — and curb their alleged ability to use their size and market dominance to stifle competition. EU officials have referred to them as “gatekeepers” that are able to shut rivals out of the marketplace.

Big Tech companies also have faced intense criticism in the U.S. from Democratic lawmakers who will have new power in Washington, D.C., as their party takes over the White House and enjoys more even numerical balance in the U.S. Senate.

The focus by EU regulators on the power of internet giants follows efforts to enforce privacy measures outlined in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The European Data Protection Board earlier this month adopted official guidance for companies that export data to help those companies determine whether countries are adhering to the GDPR requirements.

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