Big tech companies are once again under the spotlight over how they collect and use personal data, with the European Union unveiling tough new rules, and US regulators announcing a probe into a number of major tech players.
Companies such as Google, Facebook, and TikTok could face fines of up to 10% of annual revenue if they break new EU rules outlined in the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act, which are still in draft form, reports Bloomberg.
In the US, the Federal Trade Commission has ordered nine major tech players to explain how they “collect, use and present personal information”, along with detailing their advertising practices and “how social media and video streaming services collect, use, track, estimate, or derive personal and demographic information”.
Regulators set sights on tech
Under the EU proposals, strict new rules would govern the way big tech operates in the bloc. The proposals are described as the biggest shake-up in the governance of digital services in 20 years. As well as fines, any tech giant that “systematically infringes” the rules could be forced to make fundamental changes, such as divesting a business, Bloomberg reports.
Companies that EU regulators dub “gatekeepers” – those setting the rules for users and competitors – will be barred from using data collated from business users in order to compete with them, or to unfairly boost their own services in rankings.
The EU will also suggest separate rules that will force platforms to play a bigger role in what content is posted on their sites, Bloomberg reports.
These could mean fines of up to 6% of global sales for the largest social media platforms if they fail to remove illegal posts or terror propaganda when ordered to, the agency says.
EU digital governance head Margrethe Vestager has said the gatekeeper rules should complement antitrust law, Bloomberg reports. These rules allow regulators to investigate firms’ past practices.
Meanwhile, US regulator the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), has ordered Amazon, TikTok-owner ByteDance, Discord, Facebook and Facebook-owned WhatsApp, as well as Reddit, Snap, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube to share the ways they process and use data from users.
The agency says it’s also seeking information related to, amongst other things, how the companies decide which ads are shown to users, whether algorithms or data analytics are applied to personal information, and how the companies’ practices affect children and teens.
Sourced from Bloomberg, FTC