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European Legislators Willing To Delay Big Tech Hearing

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Legislators in the European Union have informed Alphabet, Facebook, Apple and Amazon that they are open to delaying a potential hearing beyond Feb. 1, its initially scheduled date, Reuters reported.

The European Parliament had invited the leaders of the firms to a hearing in Europe to aid them in forming an opinion on stringent new regulations that the European Commission had put forward. Parliament’s economic affairs committee provided the invitations.

That committee is “willing to consider rescheduling and looking into alternative dates later than the originally planned date of Feb. 1,” per a letter viewed by the news outlet. Legislators are willing to hold the hearing in March of February, Reuters reported.

Antitrust watchdogs in the bloc want the tech companies to stop business practices designed to maintain their leading positions and dominate smaller competitors. They also want the companies to take further actions to remove harmful and illicit content on their systems, with large financial penalties for those who fail to do so.

In December, the European Commission revealed comprehensive possible new rules for digital services that would cover social media, online marketplaces and other platforms, providing first drafts of the Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA).

“The two proposals serve one purpose: to make sure that we, as users, have access to a wide choice of safe products and services online. And that businesses operating in Europe can freely and fairly compete online just as they do offline,” Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president of the European Commission for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, said in a release at the time.

The DMA deals with the negative impacts of some actions by platforms functioning as digital “gatekeepers” for one market. For example, it would make gatekeepers “proactively” put some measures into place, such as those that allow third-party software to correctly function and work with their own products.

The DSA would involve binding obligations for digital services that connect consumers with content, services or products, including “comprehensive protection for users’ fundamental rights online,” along with new workflows to remove illicit content faster.

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