Sweeping EU tech rules set to take effect

Big Tech may not have any interest in complying with Canada’s recent attempts to regulate them, but the European Union is having more luck.

Driving the news: The first wave of new European Union rules governing big tech platforms, part of one of the most significant expansions of digital regulations in Western history, will come into effect next week.

  • The new package of regulations includes hundreds of specific rules aimed at forcing tech companies to more tightly moderate content on their platforms and increase competition in the space.

  • The EU isn’t messing around with penalties, either—content rule violations can carry a fine of up to 6% of a company’s global revenue, while fines for competition rule violations can be as much as 20% of global revenue. 

Why it matters: The new rules will force big tech platforms to make changes to their products that are likely to eventually make their way across the ocean to North America, too.

  • Apple will offer users a way to install apps from outside their App Store, TikTok will give people the choice of viewing a feed of locally popular videos rather than one personalized based on their data, and Google will make it easier to use browsers other than Chrome on Android devices.

  • While the laws requiring these changes only apply in Europe, it's often cheaper for tech companies to comply with EU regulations in all markets than to maintain different products across borders. We now get those annoying pop-ups about cookies because of an EU law called GDPR, for example.

Yes, but: Critics of the regulations say that forcing tech companies to comply with a maze of onerous laws will make it harder for smaller players without big compliance and legal teams to compete with giants like Meta and Google.

Bottom line: The days of “move fast and break things” with little to no oversight from regulators are over for the tech world.—LA