Google 'waking up' to EU Big Tech proposals, begins intensive lobbying
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The EU's proposed Digital Markets Act is likely to become law, and Google is reportedly now pressing to limit its impact on all Big Tech firms, including Apple and Amazon.
Back in November 2020, Big Tech firms including Apple and Google were invited to participate in talks about the Digital Markets Act (DMA). Those talks were not considered serious, however, as the EU had largely finalized its proposal beforehand.
Since then, the DMA's progress has been slowed. That lead EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager to urge legislators to get to "80% now" instead of "100% never."
Nonetheless, the DMA proposals curbing anti-competitive growth for firms such as Apple and Google, do appear to be heading toward being made law. Now, according to the Financial Times, Google has begun what the publication calls a last-ditch attempt to get the DMA changed.
"Top executives in California have known about the DMA all along but they are only waking up now," one Google insider told the Financial Times.
Diplomats and politicians report that they have now seen what they call a marked escalation in lobbying. All of it is seemingly focused on the message that limiting Google would on some unspecified way harm small businesses.
"Please don't make it harder for my business," reads part of one letter sent by the Connected Commerce Council (CCC). Lobbying group CCC counts Google and Amazon among its partners.
Similarly, IAB Europe, a group which includes Google, reportedly campaigned against the DMA's proposed ban on targeted advertising.
I'm being targeted with a nearly unrecognisable ad aimed at EU officials promoting false info and solely referring to studies of IAB.— Alderik Oosthoek (@a_oosthoek) November 13, 2021
This is exactly why we need to ban tracking ads and steer to contextual ads instead. pic.twitter.com/GDjq0Z2fQ6
Another unnamed EU diplomat told the Financial Times that "my feed is on overdrive."
The current DMA debate is being led by Andreas Schwab, MEP, who said that Google's efforts were "a little too late" to have significant impact.
"I get a sense they are worried," Schwab said. "And they should be."
One reason that Google may now be increasing its efforts is because of changes in Germany. According to the Financial Times, Germany's competition watchdog formally categorized Google as being a "gatekeeper," and so liable to more stringent local oversight.
"We think people in Europe should be able to enjoy the best services that Google can build," a Google spokesperson told the publication. "It's clear some of the proposals in the DMA and DSA [Digital Services Act] affect us directly and will have an impact on how we innovate our products in Europe."
"We care about getting the balance right, and we know our users and customers care too," continued the spokesperson. "Like many others, we've engaged openly and constructively with policymakers throughout the legislative process to put across our point of view."
Apple has not commented on the current state of the DMA debate, but has previously objected to its proposals.