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Big Tech to Spur Global Antitrust Rewrite in 2020

 |  January 2, 2020

By Victoria Graham, Bloomberg

If 2019 was the year of the techlash, 2020 is poised to be the year of the global antitrust rewrite, as countries worldwide retool their laws to confront Big Tech.

Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and other tech giants are facing increased criticism from antitrust regulators over their expanding power, particularly their control over troves of data.

Heading into 2020, some countries have signaled that their displeasure with the tech industry isn’t just talk. Regulators from the U.S. to the U.K. to Australia have warned that they plan to take action to rein in the power of Silicon Valley’s biggest names, by tweaking the policies that govern competition.

“The techlash is the rhetorical thing, it’s the easy bit,” said Greg Francis, a London-based managing director at Access Partnership, a global public policy consultancy for the tech sector. “The dangerous and challenging part is the regulation that is getting drafted in response.”

The Eastern Hemisphere is already dotted with a handful of tech policy proposals, many of which could become a reality in 2020.

Germany’s federal cartel office, which has already sought to overhaul Facebook’s user tracking practices, proposed rules that would address the use of data in digital markets. Australia is slated to set up a new committee in the new year that will monitor Big Tech’s potentially anticompetitive online advertising practices.

The year ahead is the “next chapter” of the techlash debate, said Marianela Lopez-Galdos, global competition counsel at the Computer & Communications Industry Association, whose members include Facebook and Google.

“For 2020, what we will see is how these ideas get implemented,” she said.

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