Big Tech’s Hostile Takeovers Should Face Tighter Review, EU Ministers Say
Alphabet’s draft rules targeting Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple should be stepped up to allow regulators to control their acquisitions of rival startups, Germany, France and the Netherlands said Thursday.
The joint statement by German Minister of Economy Peter Altmaier, his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire, French Deputy Minister Cédric O and Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Mona Keijzer came as EU countries and lawmakers were preparing to discuss the rules proposed by the European Commission.
The tech giants have been criticized by some for so-called “murderous acquisitions” where they buy up nascent rivals in an attempt to shut them down.
Regulators should use the Digital Markets Bill (DMA) to address this issue, ministers said.
“First, set clear and legally certain thresholds for acquisitions by target custodians with relatively low revenue, but high value,” they said.
“Second, adapt the substantive test to effectively deal with cases of potentially predatory acquisitions.”
They said the proposed rules should leave room for EU countries to tackle so-called online gatekeepers and anti-competitive behavior.
The draft rules could enter into force next year once the European Commission, member states and lawmakers have worked out a common position.
What is the law on digital markets?
The DMA is a piece of legislation currently under consideration by the European Parliament and EU Member States.
The EU says the law will target Internet gatekeepers – that is, large tech companies – who enjoy a dominant position in the digital market.
If adopted, the DMA:
Prevent gatekeepers from favoring their own products over those of a competitor, such as placing them more prominently in the search results of a website they own.
Allow consumers to uninstall any preinstalled apps or software on the devices they purchase.
Require gatekeepers to improve the transparency of advertising hosted on their platforms.