eu target us tech companies: US lawmakers warn Joe Biden to probe EU targeting of tech firms

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A bipartisan group of lawmakers has written to US president Joe Biden, warning that European technology regulations are unfairly targeting US companies and not including many Chinese or EU firms, according to a letter seen by Reuters on Monday.

Under the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), five major US tech companies – Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta and Microsoft – were designated “gatekeeper” service providers. From March 2024, these companies – as well as TikTok’s Chinese owner ByteDance – will be required to make their messaging apps work with rivals and let users choose which ones they want pre-installed on their devices.

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In the letter, 21 members of the US House of Representatives warned the new rules could damage American economic and security interests and called on Biden to secure commitments from the EU the rules will be enforced fairly.

“Securing our leadership in this sector is imperative for our economy and American workers,” the letter said. “The designation of leading U.S. companies as ‘gatekeepers’ threatens to upend the U.S. economy, diminish our global leadership in the digital sphere, and jeopardize the security of consumers.”

The European Commission and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Europe is seen by some experts as the global leader in tech regulation. The bloc’s DMA and the DSA (Digital Services Act) are attempts at tailoring laws to target the Big Tech companies.

The letter questioned why Chinese companies Alibaba, Huawei, and Tencent had avoided designation and why European companies had avoided any scrutiny. “The EU inexplicably failed to designate any European retailers, content-sharing platforms, payment firms, and telcos,” it said.

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Signatories of the letter – including Representative Lou Correa, a Democrat, and Thomas Massie, a Republican, – called on Biden to seek assurances from EU lawmakers the DMA will not be unfairly used to target U.S. companies. The U.S. government has previously warned the EU against over-regulating American technology companies. When the DMA was still being drafted, the White House National Security Council told EU representatives that using the bill to solely target American companies would hinder their ability to work together.

Since 2021, the EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC) has sought to harmonise technology regulation on either side of the Atlantic, with lawmakers seeking consensus on topics such as supply chain security, export controls and foreign investment.

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