The EU is writing new rules to force technology giants, including Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, to share their customer data with smaller competitors, Reuters says, citing an early draft of the bloc's upcoming Digital Services Act (DSA).
The DSA, which is expected to come into effect by the end of the year, will update rules and guidelines that were first adopted nearly 20 years ago, when most of the current players in the technology sector were either very small or did not exist.
The Act aims to set new rules on tech firms' responsibilities, particularly regarding their use of consumers' data and how they deal with illegal content on their platforms.
The early draft of the DSA seen by Reuters suggests that the EU wants big tech firms to stop giving preferential treatment to their own services on their platforms or sites.
The companies may also be asked to stop pre-installing their own apps on hardware devices, such as smartphone or laptops, or forcing third-party developers or hardware manufacturers to exclusively pre-install their applications.
The EU is drafting tougher rules that will prevent 'gatekeeper platforms' (firms with strategic market status) from using data collected on their platforms to target users, unless they share the data with their smaller competitors.
Another rule would ban such gatekeepers from blocking competitors that offer products to customers outside of the their own services or platform.
Tech giants would also be asked to have their advertising metrics and reporting practices audited by regulatory bodies once in a year.
Last month, EU commissioner Thierry Breton told the Financial Times that the EU was seeking to give itself new powers to penalise big tech firms
Breton said that the proposed powers, which would only be used in extreme conditions, include breaking up technology firms or asking them to sell some of their operations in the region.
"There is a feeling from end users of these platforms that they are too big to care," Breton said.
In a blog post published last month, Google said that it supports measures that allow users/customers to move between platforms without losing access to their data.
"As we look to the future, it's important that regulation keeps pace with change, and Google supports Europe's effort to create a more responsible, innovative and helpful internet for everyone," the company said.
"Well-designed regulation gives consumers confidence that their interests are being protected as they shop, search and socialise online. It also provides businesses with protection from opaque or unfair practices."
In recent years, major tech companies have faced criticism from lawmakers and the public over similar issues, including their market dominance and handling of users' data.
Last year, the US Federal Trade Commission imposed a $5 billion fine on Facebook over the sharing of user data with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica. The EU also fined Google €1.5 billion in 2019 over anti-competitive conduct by AdSense.
In 2018, the EU fined Google a record €4.3 billion, over claims of Android market abuse.
The European Union says the powers it wants, including the ability to break up large tech firms, would only be used in extreme circumstances
The developer says Apple's App Store represents a 'monopoly' and has filed a preliminary injunction against the firm
Britain introduced the Digital Services Tax in April, due to slow progress on a global agreement about how to tax tech giants like Facebook
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