Facebook and its apps were down this Monday (4), and this became a headache for many people. European Union and Russia already have their answers to the problem, and they are not exactly new. Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, once again argued that the network should not depend on just a few companies. Russia, on the other hand, once again stressed that the country needs to have its sovereignty over the web.
Vestager used the episode to promote the importance of the bloc’s Digital Markets Act (DMA or Digital Markets Act). In a draft last year, the text imposes a series of rules on companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, forcing them to change their business model to make room for more competition.
“We need alternatives and options for the technology market. We shouldn’t trust a few big players, whoever they are. This is the goal of DMA.”
Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, no Twitter
Russia, on the other hand, goes the other way: for the country, the alternative to big techs has to be national and sovereign. Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the foreign ministry, said the fall “provides an answer to the need to have our own social networks and internet platforms.”
european union against big techs
It is not new that the European Union wants the big technology companies to change their actions so as not to concentrate so much power.
The block has already made attacks against Google, for undue advantages in the advertising business, and Amazon, for anti-competitive practices in its marketplace — which, according to the process, used customer data to benefit its own products in search.
Apple has also come into focus for violating antitrust law by charging Spotify and other competitors fees while promoting its own services. Facebook is being investigated for violations of the GDPR (the block’s data protection law).
Apple and Google even felt in their pockets: the iPhone company had to pay 14 billion euros in back taxes in Ireland, and the search giant was fined 1.49 billion euros for its AdSense practices.
The Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act are the latest chapter of this stance.
The first proposal targets companies with more than 45 million users in Europe and creates measures to combat illegal content. Companies will also have to share details about advertisers and algorithms.
The second is aimed at companies with annual sales of over 6.5 billion euros in the last three years or 65 billion euros in market value, with operations in three countries in the bloc or more than 45 million users.
They will be required to share data about competitors’ acquisition plans and will be prohibited from favoring their own services on their platforms.
Those who disrespect can be fined 10% of the annual global revenue or even be “divided” into more companies.
Russia wants to “isolate” its internet
If the European Union took advantage of Facebook’s connectivity problems to highlight the importance of its antitrust and pro-competition agenda, Russia is once again talking about an idea that has gained traction in recent years: defending the country’s sovereignty on the network.
The country has a reputation for pressuring social media companies to delete content and store data on its territory, as well as curbing the use of VPNs, which could be used to access websites banned by the government. Telegram was even banned in 2018 for not delivering user encryption keys.
Country networks like Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki already have more active users than Facebook in Russia. Even so, Russia wants to go further: “isolate” the local internet from the rest of the network.
The law that allows this isolation of the country’s network was approved in May 2019. In December of that same year, the country carried out a test to put its RuNet into practice.
At the time, the government managed to make the network work without relying on foreign DNS servers. Thus, ISPs could work with government agencies to prevent traffic from going through routes outside the territory, controlling what could be seen and used.
With information: Reuters 1, 2, Power360