Google increases lobbying against EU Digital Services Act

Europe: Google has increased its anti-regulation lobbying efforts in Europe, targeted at the ambitious Digital Services Act [DSA].

The tech giant has outlined a 60-day strategy, in which it plans to rally American allies by framing the act as a threat to trans-Atlantic relations.

European legislators have been pushing for wider regulations against digital services providers since 2017 when the EU Commission introduced non-binding guidelines for digital companies. Efforts have become more concrete in 2020, however, with the Commission completing its public consultation for possible legislation in September.

Google, alongside other multi-national tech firms, believe that these new efforts may constrain its business. The 60-day plan was laid out in a Google internal lobbying document, uncovered by Politico, with the stated goal to: “remove from the Commission’s proposal unreasonable constraints to our business model, our ability to improve products or roll out new features.”

Matt Brittin, Google EMEA president of business and operations, said: “It’s so important to get the rules right for European consumers to have more choice, to support the kind of jobs we’ll need in the future and to support European businesses.”

The primary target of new efforts is policymakers, claiming that the new act would have a major effect on the European economy. According to Google, new regulations could cost the European economy €85 billion a year in GDP.

Google is not alone in its criticism, with Airbnb having already submitted a statement against the DSA to the EU Commission earlier this year. It is also gathering support from EU tech giants, including Booking.com, Trivago, Allegro, REWE and Zalando.

Currently, proposed rules consider a variety of dos and don’ts for so-called “gatekeeper platforms” such as Google, Amazon and the App Store. These include restrictions on using competitors’ commercial data, self-preferencing, and rules on promotions outside the platform.

The commission plans to publish the DSA on 2nd  December, after which it will be reconciled with additions from EU parliament and various member states.

Thierry Breton, European internal market commissioner, told Politico: “I know [Google] very well. They adapt to European law. They will know how to adapt, like everyone else, and even if it costs a bit of money, they will manage because the European market is an important one, including when it comes to data.”