Big Tech Compliance Tracker: EU Watchdogs Make ‘Big Tech Hit List’; France To Go Ahead With Digital Services Tax Plan

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Here’s the latest news from Amazon and the technology industry, which is coming under increasing scrutiny from regulatory watchdogs, trade organizations and politicians globally.

Regulation

Netherlands, France Advocate For Action Against Big Tech

Two government officials from European nations have advocated to have watchdogs engage in preventative measures against Big Tech to reduce their strength and handle on the market, according to reports.

The Netherlands’ Mona Keijzer and France’s Cedric O inked a position paper last week that noted that action geared toward “gatekeeping” digital platforms is needed to ensure a level playing field and that users get fair treatment.

Keijzer serves as the state secretary for economic affairs and climate policy for the Netherlands, while O is the secretary of digital transition and electronic communications for France.

EU Watchdogs Create ‘Big Tech Hit List’

EU regulators are reportedly creating a “hit list” of approximately 20 firms — Big Tech signature names among them — that will encounter stricter regulations over market competition and other operational activities.

The new regulations would also reshape the manner in which these companies collect and harness information. It is probable that size and market share will be determining factors in who lands on the “Big Tech hit list.”

Taxes

OECD’s Tax Reform To Be Presented To G20

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which is based in France, said its worldwide tax reform blueprint will be put in front of the Group of 20 finance ministers.

If a consensus is formed, the framework could be put in place by the middle of next year, the Associated Press reported.

However, the OECD cautioned about the potential of an international trade war brought by different nations rolling out digital services taxes on their own to assist in their economic rebounds from COVID-19 in the event nations don’t all agree on the new tax regulations.

The OECD forecasted that the measures could bring in a further $100 billion in business tax revenues each year.

France Will Proceed With Controversial Digital Services Tax Plan

France will proceed with intentions to gather its controversial digital services tax in the middle of December, Accounting Today reported.

“The only question we have to ask is whether we can accept that the big winners of this crisis, the digital giants, should continue to be taxed less than other big companies — my answer is no, and thrice no,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

The government of France halted the payment of its national tax on digital revenues as the United States consented to abstain from retaliatory taxes.

Skepticism Emerges Over Effect Of British Tech Tax On Amazon

Amazon is encountering new skepticism after it came to the surface that the U.K. government’s digital services tax will not impact the tech firm, City A.M., a London news outlet, reported.

Ministers introduced the new levy in the spring that charges a two percent tax on internet firm sales, noting that it would make sure that firms pay their “fair share” to back public services.

Amazon will not have to pay the tax on merchandise it sells, but it will need to pay the levy on sales it receives from third-party merchants. It has reportedly already indicated that it will have smaller merchants pay the tax through increased charges.

“Like many others, we have encouraged the government to pursue a global agreement on the taxation of the digital economy at OECD level rather than unilateral taxes, so that rules would be consistent across countries and clearer and fairer for businesses,” a representative for the eCommerce retailer said in a statement.

Spain’s Senate Approves “Google Tax” On Digital Services

Spain’s senate has given the go-ahead for a so-called “Google tax,” which is a levy on digital services of 3 percent.

The tax will be put on multinationals that have yearly sales of a minimum of 750 million euros (approximately $883 million) globally and 3 million euros (approximately $3.5 million) domestically, The Corner reported.

The “Google tax,” along with a so-called “Tobin tax” on financial transactions, will take effect three months following their Official State Gazette publication.

Fines

Former EU Regulator Says Big Penalties Don’t Impact Big Tech Firms

A European Union leader who was involved in landmark cases against Google, Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp. claims that Silicon Valley has greater concern over being made to reshape its business operations than large antitrust penalties, Bloomberg Quint reported.

“The number doesn’t matter — what they care about, these companies, is that you declared them as having violated the law,” said Cecilio Madero Villarejo, who is a former deputy director-general of the European Commission’s competition authority. “What they hate,” he said, are “remedies we impose.”

News

Bill Gates Says Chance Of Big Tech Antitrust Regulation Is High

Bill Gates, the co-founder and former Microsoft chief executive, said in a CNBC interview that he had been inexperienced with the scrutiny of the government that comes with becoming big when he was operating Microsoft, CNBC reported.

He also indicated that the probability of Big Tech antitrust regulation is “pretty high.”

“I was naive at Microsoft and didn’t realize that our success would lead to government attention,” Gates said, as per CNBC. “And so I made some mistakes — you know, just saying, ‘Hey, I never go to Washington, D.C.’ And now I don’t think, you know, that naivete is there.”

EDiMA Says EU Digital Services Act Should Avoid Regulating Harmful Content For Now

EDiMA, a trade organization representing the biggest digital platforms in the world, has advocated for the European Union’s future Digital Services Act to come with a “legal basis to act” on the hosting of illicit content. However, it should steer clear of the “challenging” work of regulating against harmful content for now, Euractiv reported.

“With content/activity that is ‘harmful’ but not illegal, often a service provider will have to make determinations as to where to draw the line between free speech and the right to information versus the possible harm caused to users,” according to a position paper that EDiMA members support.

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