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Europe Has Declared War on American Tech Companies

Europe Has Declared War On American Tech Companies
The BriefGet Up To Speed

European regulators are taking on American technology companies, including Apple, Facebook, and Google, in a big way. Is Brussels waging war against Silicon Valley? Proponents of European regulations argue that these tech giants make billions of dollars while avoiding taxes, and they engage in risky activities that jeopardize user privacy with little to no consequence. Regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), they say, will bring power back into the hands of tech consumers by protecting their data and will restore faith in tech companies, ultimately benefitting all. But not everyone agrees. Their opponents argue that regulations like the GDPR are bad for business, and Silicon Valley was built on the idea that innovators need the room and freedom to create without constraint. Tight regulations, they say, will stifle innovation, which will be a detriment to the West’s global influence – and an impediment to societal progress. Is Europe right to wield a regulatory sword at American tech companies?


“Huge technology policy questions are looming for whoever takes the top jobs at the European Union in the coming months. Decisions that could radically reshape tech business models, reconfigure the competitive landscape and change the relationship between Internet users and the content and services they consume.”

Saturday, June 15, 2019
Natasha Lomas

“These companies won in the free market, and they can use their property as they choose.”

Monday, September 23, 2019
Kevin O’Connor

“The Danish politician returns to the Commission in an unprecedented role to direct and enforce European digital policy.”

Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Mark Scott

“The General Data Protection Regulation, known as GDPR, is set to reform data protection in the UK and the EU, and even across the world. It aims to prevent huge data breaches and leaks - like what happened with the Facebook data scandal.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Anja Popp

“What is the GDPR? Europe’s new data privacy and security law includes hundreds of pages’ worth of new requirements for organizations around the world. This GDPR overview will help you understand the law and determine what parts of it apply to you.”

Friday, May 25, 2018
European Union

“In this report, the Centre for Information Policy Leadership (CIPL)1 seeks to outline the positive impacts and benefits organisations have experienced as a result of their GDPR compliance efforts. We also describe the challenges and unfulfilled promises of the GDPR, where organisations feel the Regulation has not lived up to its objectives and has presented practical difficulties, despite their dedication to implementing the new requirements.”

Friday, May 31, 2019
Center for Information Policy Leadership

“A total of 19 countries voted in favor of the sweeping new rules.”

Monday, April 15, 2019
Saqib Shah

“If you’re an internet user in Europe, chances are the way you use platforms like YouTube and Facebook could be about to shift drastically in the coming years. The European Parliament recently passed sweeping changes to the EU’s almost two decades-old copyright rules, and critics are worried it could be a misfire that ultimately results in online censorship.”

Friday, March 29, 2019
Ryan Browne

“The first change to copyright law in the EU in almost two decades is designed to give artists, musicians and publishers a better chance of being paid when their work appears on the internet.”

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Mahreen Khan

“The much-criticized ‘upload filter’ and ‘link tax’ will soon become law in EU nations”

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
James Vincent
Speech Regulations

“In its latest monitoring report of a voluntary Code of Conduct on illegal hate speech, which platforms including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube signed up to in Europe back in 2016, the European Commission has said progress is being made on speeding up takedowns but tech firms are still lagging when it comes to providing feedback and transparency around their decisions.”

Monday, February 4, 2019
Natasha Lomas

“Code of Conduct on countering illegal hate speech online: Questions and answers on the fourth evaluation”

Monday, February 4, 2019
European Commission

“The U.N.’s special rapporteur on freedom of expression on how social media companies can get their acts together.”

Thursday, June 6, 2019
David Kaye

“Brussels is drawing up legislation that will force tech giants to remove illegal content or face the threat of sanctions under a comprehensive “Digital Services Act” due to be unveiled at the end of next year. “

Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Mehreen Khan; Madhumita Murgia

“The German parliament passed a law on 30 June that subjects social media companies and other providers that host third-party content to fines of up to €50 million if they fail to remove “obviously illegal” speech within 24 hours of it being reported.”

Monday, July 17, 2017
Center for Democracy and Technology
Right to be Forgotten

“Handing Google a major victory, the European Union’s highest court ruled Tuesday that the EU’s “right to be forgotten” rules that allow people to control what comes up when their name is searched online do not apply outside the 28-nation bloc.”

Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Raf Casert

“The first is that Google won the battle: The court concluded that France does not have the current authority to demand that its delisting orders apply around the world. Second, however, Google is losing the larger war against global injunctions: Europe’s highest court explicitly rejected the idea that global orders are inherently problematic or somehow incompatible with a global internet. To the contrary, the court left the door wide open—even put out a welcome mat—for future extraterritorial regulations of the internet. Third, contrary to the general story that Europe views and regulates the internet differently from the U.S., these cases share striking similarities to some of the most pressing regulatory challenges on this side of the Atlantic.”

Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Andrew Keane Woods
Taxes & Financial Penalties

“Ursula von der Leyen, the president-elect of the Commission, said during a speech earlier this month that “it is not acceptable that (tech companies) make profits, but they are barely paying any taxes.”

Thursday, August 1, 2019
Silvia Amaro

“Developed countries are now moving to impose new taxes on technology companies, like Facebook and Google, that have large presences in their citizens’ daily lives but pay those countries little tax on the profits they earn there.”

Friday, July 12, 2019
Jim Tankersley; Alan Rappeport

“France and Britain are hatching plans to tax the revenue, rather than the profit, of companies such as Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google that make their sales primarily in cyberspace. They’re the first of potentially several countries in Europe implementing “digital taxes” meant to extract money from companies whose multinational earnings often escape the taxman’s grip thanks to legal loopholes and the virtual nature of their offerings.”

Friday, July 19, 2019
William Horobin; Aoife White
For the Motion

“The debate in Europe illustrates the difficulties that governments face as they try to regulate the most corrosive material on the internet without choking off individual expression. That is set to flare up elsewhere as other countries also move to pass new laws or impose restrictions on online material.”

Monday, May 6, 2019
Adam Satariano

“The GDPR is the regulation that US activists have been pointing to as a model for what Congress might consider applying here in America. Yet the certainly unintended consequences might be to strengthen the very companies the rule is trying to tame.”

Friday, April 27, 2018
James Pethokoukis

“As has been the case so often in the internet's brief life, humanity has entered uncharted territory. People (sort of) know how to break up a railway or an oil company and America once barely managed to break up a phone company. No one is sure how to break up a tech monopolist. Depending on how this moment plays out, that option may be lost altogether. But competition is too important to give up on.”

Thursday, June 6, 2019
Cory Doctorow

“As paradoxical as it sounds, despite all the boldest promises, as well as constant data protection drum rolling, the EU values individual privacy much less than the US. In the US the nine figure damage awards for the privacy violations are not exceptional, but in Europe low five figures would be very lucky after long years of litigation.”

Sunday, August 5, 2018
Mindaugas Kiskis
Against the Motion

“Regulators should publish case studies that illustrate how they have put into practice the GDPR’s principles when investigating complaints. Over time, a new body of case law will emerge as individuals take organizations to court to challenge their data practices and as organizations, in turn, take data protection authorities to court to challenge their enforcement actions. Such legal proceedings might lack the high drama of a murder trial or a celebrity divorce. But make no mistake: the future of human autonomy and dignity will be shaped by their outcomes.”

Saturday, September 15, 2018
Helen Dixon

“The constraints that government imposes on business often conjure images of bureaucratic red tape that stifles technology development. However, as companies -- especially those in financial services -- continue to wrestle with new data security challenges and user privacy requirements like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the increase in regulation is driving innovation.”

Monday, September 16, 2019
Rusty Wiley

“It might seem like a lot of extra work, but with the right planning your organization can become GDPR compliant — and improve your business in the process. GDPR is great reminder to businesses that information about individuals is simply on loan — not owned — and organizations have a responsibility to look after it. It’s not just a matter of confidentiality; it’s about integrity, accuracy, and availability — and it’s just plain good business practice.”

Sunday, March 18, 2018
Dennis Dayman

“The European Commission fined chipmaker Qualcomm €242 million for luring Chinese phone makers with low prices, forcing a British rival out of the market.”

Thursday, July 18, 2019
Gregory Barber
Industry Reaction

“Governments also can help stimulate market forces through their actions. They typically rank among a nation’s largest technology purchasers, and their procurement decisions can have a powerful impact on overall market trends. Even more important, governments have large and valuable data repositories. By making these data available to the public in appropriate and defined ways, governments can have a decisive influence on the technology markets that will put these data to use.”

Monday, September 9, 2019
Brad Smith and Carol Ann Browne

“Internet companies should be accountable for enforcing standards on harmful content. It’s impossible to remove all harmful content from the Internet, but when people use dozens of different sharing services — all with their own policies and processes — we need a more standardized approach.”

Saturday, March 30, 2019
Mark Zuckerberg

“Facebook takes data protection and people's privacy very seriously and we are committed to continuing to comply with data protection laws.”

Monday, January 29, 2018
Facebook Business

“Protecting and defending user privacy is at the heart of our work. From protecting user anonymity, to offering meaningful privacy and security controls, and our overall commitment to transparency, these are foundational principles and built into the core DNA of our company. We also partner with civil society, we stand up to governments and we continue to evolve our efforts around documenting our work.”

Friday, May 25, 2018

“We are always working to stay compliant, which helps make compliance easier for your business. We are audited regularly by third parties, maintain certifications, provide industry-standard contractual protections, and share tools and information you can use to strengthen your business’ compliance.”

Monday, October 7, 2019

“At Apple we design our products and services according to the principle of privacy by default and collect only the minimum amount of data necessary to provide our users with a product or service.  We also deploy industry-leading consent mechanisms to allow our customers to choose whether to share data such as their Location, Contacts, Reminders, Photos, Bluetooth Sharing, Microphone, Speech Recognition, Camera, Health, HomeKit, Media & Apple Music and Motion & Fitness Data with apps. “

Monday, October 7, 2019

“We believe privacy is a fundamental human right. As people live more of their lives online and depend more on technology to operate their businesses, engage with friends and family, pursue opportunities, and manage their health and finances, the protection of this right is becoming more important than ever.”

Monday, October 7, 2019
Julie Brill
Recent Cases & Regulations

“’When there is a lack of competition, users accepting terms of service are often not truly consenting. The consent is a fiction.’”

Thursday, February 7, 2019
Emily Dreyfuss

“Startup browser maker Brave has filed new evidence with the Irish Data Protection Commission stating that Google has created a GDPR workaround that is sharing the personal data of billions of people to thousands of companies globally.”

Wednesday, September 4, 2019
John Koetsier

“The EU's top court has ruled that Google does not have to apply the right to be forgotten globally.”

Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Leo Kelion

“Europe’s top court said on Thursday that an individual country can order Facebook to take down posts, photographs and videos and restrict global access to that material, in a ruling that has implications for how countries can expand content bans beyond their borders.”

Thursday, October 3, 2019
Adam Satariano
European-Style Regulations in the United States

“Several U.S. states have recently introduced and passed legislation to expand data breach notification rules and to mirror some of the protections provided by Europe’s newly enacted General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”)… Like their European counterparts, these state laws are intended to provide consumers with greater transparency and control over their personal data.”

Monday, July 9, 2018
Jeewon Kim Serrato, Chris Cwalina, Anna Rudawski, Tristan Coughlin and Katey Fardelmann

“The California Senate Judiciary Committee heard five bills on Tuesday that EFF and other privacy advocates strongly opposed. These measures, backed by big business and the tech industry, would have eviscerated the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), a landmark privacy law passed last year. We thank the Senate Judiciary Committee, in particular Chair Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and the committee’s staff, for blocking efforts to weaken the state's baseline privacy protections.”

Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Hayley Tsukayama

“Rather than a comprehensive legal protection for personal data, the United States has only a patchwork of sector-specific laws that fail to adequately protect data. Congress should create a single legislative data-protection mandate to protect individuals’ privacy.”

Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Nuala O’Connor

“Mark Zuckerberg, the chairman and C.E.O. of Facebook, has a tortuous relationship with government regulation. After committing his company to abide by the strict privacy requirements of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations (G.D.P.R.) in April, 2018, internal documents showed that Facebook had been pursuing vigorous anti-regulation lobbying campaigns throughout the world.”

Thursday, April 11, 2019
Sue Halpern