EU lawmakers at the European Parliament aims to navigate the debate on tough new rules targeting Facebook, Google, and other big tech companies to secure support to Europeans’ fundamental rights.
In December of last year, the European Commission (EC) suggested the Digital Service Act (DSA) that will oblige Big Tech companies to go the extra mile in confronting illegal content, such as hate speech and sexual abuse and many others on their platforms.
Since these online gatekeepers are the main components controlling private users’ data – with a bundle of European businesses and individuals relying on these platforms for either their work or online social interactions – the DMA will place its full-fledged focus on their platforms.
So, what are the EU drafted rules?
The regulators released two sets of rules, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA).
DMA is a legislative proposal of the EC intending to safeguard a greater degree of competition in the European Digital Markets (EDM) by blocking large companies from exploiting their market power and allowing new players to enter the game.
In parallel, DSA is legislative proposal by the EC submitted to the European Parliament and the European council. The conveyed purpose of the DSA is to update the Europeans Union’s legal framework, specifically by reforming the e-commerce directive – which sets an internal market framework for online services.
From their part, Gatekeeper companies will encounter a list of criteria they need to follow, such as sharing specific types of data with rivals and regulators, and not to preference their own platforms or harvest data from set platforms to go after business users.
A gatekeeper company is the company who holds the upper hand in deciding on a product’s or service’s qualification.
However, Patrick Breyer a lawmaker in the Committee on Civil Liberties and Justice and Home Affair, is responsible for guiding the DSA in requesting more emphasis on the essential rights and digital privacy in the rules of the proposal.
“It is clear that the European Parliament proposal will be much more ambitious than the Commission’s proposal, in some aspects it could be groundbreaking,” Breyer informed Reuters in an interview.
Breyers proposals consist of the right to anonymously use and pay for digital services whenever it is doable, replacing or removing personalized targeting for non-commercial and political advertising, and prohibit any obligation on platforms to obstruct access to content.
Nevertheless, tech giants will not go without a fight.
Tech companies such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter called for equal rules that will not cut down on innovation and will double their efforts to break down the draft rules.
For instance, Facebook wants the EU to crack down on Apple for having full control over a complete ecosystem while hinting that Apple is using this power to harm developers, consumers, and large platforms.
Apple, however, has completely rejected such accusations.
Eu regulating Big Tech platforms will lead the way to address the impact they have on society and their competition. By imposing these regulations, EU will be leading the way and encourage European platforms to own economic power of their own.
By regulating the big players, without taking into consideration where they originate from, will give the EU a bigger role to play on an international scale.
Didi pushes back on IPO rumors
Famous Beijing-based giant Didi denied any allegations of plans to go private in a bid to satisfy the Chinese government amidst latest regulations concerning users’ data security.
After the Wall Street Journal released a report discussing the possibility of Didi going private, the ride-hailing app’s shares increased by approximately 50 percent in Thursday’s pre-market trade.
The company has been targeted by Beijing regulators ever since it made its U.S. market debut about a month ago, followed by several U.S. senators asking its financial markets regulator to launch an investigation concerning the company’s Chinese share listings.
In a statement that came as a reaction to the report, Didi debunked any allegations of going private as it currently switching it focus to cybersecurity.
“The rumors about the privatization of Didi are untrue, and the company is currently actively cooperating with cybersecurity reviews,” Didi said on Chinese social media platform Weibo.
Two days after the Beijing-based firm began trading shares on New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the Beijing cyberspace supervisory authority ordered Chinese online stores to remove Didi from their app stores under the pretense that it is illegally collecting users’ personal data.
The Chinese authorities’ move influenced the firm’s market value, leading to a sharp drop by around a third ever since Didi raised its initial public offering (IPO) to $4.4 billion a month ago.
Since Didi’s released its IPO on NYSE at the end of June, the Chinese driver service broker’s shares fell drastically in value.
On Thursday, Didi shares finished its U.S. trading day with a rise of 11.3 percent.
Didi, alongside many Chinese Big Tech companies such as Alibaba and ByteDance have been under the Chinese government’s scrutiny regarding their behavior of monopolizing the market to their benefit.
This led to some of the firms’ largest share prices slump in the U.S., Hong Kong, and mainland China’s trading market as China puts the industry under tough scrutiny.
In parallel, Didi follows a comparable business model to its American competitor Ube. The Chinese app had already conquered Uber in a vicious price war in its home market.
Google is battling against a $1 billion legal claim
Google is charging people for their digital purchases in its Play Store through an “unfair and excessive” manner, according to a new legal lawsuit filed against the tech giant.
On behalf of 19.5 million Android phone users in the UK, the legal action is seeking up to $1 billion from Google.
The lawsuit has been filed with the Competition Appeal Tribunal in London by former Citizens Advice digital policy manager Liz Coll, who’s claiming that the 30 percent cut Google takes from digital purchases on its app store is unjust.
“Google created the Android app marketplace and controls it with a vice-like grip,” Coll said, explaining that Google has went against UK and European competition law.
In response, Google defended its case by issuing a statement saying that “Android gives people more choice than any other mobile platform in deciding which apps and app stores they use, in fact most Android phones come preloaded with more than one app store.”
“We compete vigorously and fairly for developers and consumers,” Google noted, mentioning that 97 percent of developers on Google Play don’t pay any service fee at all, which means their apps are free to consumers.
“Less than 0.1 percent of developers are subject to a 30 percent service fee and only when they’re earning over one million dollars, that fee is comparable with our competitors and allows us to constantly reinvest in building a secure, thriving platform that benefits everyone who uses it,” Google highlighted.
The trillion-dollar tech giant recently decreased its service charge to 15 percent for all app creators making less than $1 million, with only a small group of the most valuable app developers paying 30 percent.
According to Google, the charge allows the company to “constantly reinvest in building a secure, thriving platform that benefits everyone who uses it.”
The $1 billion lawsuit is the latest incident in an ongoing battle with both Apple and Google, as they’re currently under intense scrutiny following Epic Games’ legal action.
Epic argued that the Play Store and Apple’s app store policies and management were against producing fruitful competition, as the American video game and software developer described the two tech giants as “monopolistic.”
For the past years, major tech firms have been in hot water over anti-trust and monopoly charges.
In 2020, ten U.S. states led by Texas, brought legal action against Google over its ad revenue practices, accusing Google with illegally collaborating with the popular social network Facebook.
“As internal Google documents reveal, Google sought to kill competition and has done so through an array of exclusionary tactics, including an unlawful agreement with Facebook, its largest potential competitive threat,” the lawsuit stated.
“This Goliath of a company is using its power to manipulate the market, destroy competition, and harm you, the consumer,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said regarding Google through a video released on Twitter.
The key question many analysts have been asking is to what extent Google should be given the freedom to charge its services as it sees fit, no matter what the cost is to other developers.
Rick rolls past a billion views on YouTube
When it comes to famous memes from the 2000s, millennials are just never going to give them up.
Anyone who was active on the internet since 2009 surely stumbled upon Rick Astley’s music hit “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Almost 12 years later, and the music video has exceeded one billion views on YouTube on Wednesday.
For the Generation Z who weren’t surfing the web at that time, the video itself started off as an internet meme under the name “Rick Roll,” which is the most famous prank in the internet’s history.
The prank consisted of luring people to click on a hyperlink that claims to be one thing but turns out to be the red-haired iconic singer’s video “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
The British singer cannot deny the impact the meme had on his music video. According to YouTube, on April Fool’s Day this year, the “Rick roll” generated 2.3 million views.
Following Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” A-ha’s “Take on Me,” and Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” Rick Astley’s song is the fourth in line to join the 80’s hits on YouTube.
The 55-year-old singer celebrated the achievement on Twitter, saying in a video “So I’ve just been told that ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ has been streamed a billion times on YouTube. That is mind-blowing. The world is a wonderful and beautiful place, and I am very lucky.”
To celebrate the huge milestone, 2,500 copies of the 7-inch blue vinyl of Astley’s popular song were released. Exclusively signed by the singer himself, the $17 vinyl completely sold out, according to Astley’s official website.
In the past, the singer voiced his perspective on the “Rick roll” meme, saying that he’s completely fine with it.
In a 2008 interview with the L.A. Times, the famous meme figure in every millennial’s childhood said “I think it’s just one of those odd things where something gets picked up and people run with it. That’s what’s brilliant about the internet.”
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