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EU: Incoming leaders plan new AI, data use laws

 |  September 3, 2019

Evidence is being gathered on US big tech companies as the European Commission prepares for new leadership, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, September 3.

Within 100 days of taking office on November 1, President-elect Ursula von der Leyen and her team indicate there will be new laws governing artificial intelligence (AI) and how tech companies like Facebook use big data. 

Big tech investigations were already initiated by Commissioner Margrethe Vestager and could end with multimillion-dollar fines. Facebook and Amazon deny wrongdoing.

Alphabet’s Google has already been hit with US$9.4 billion in fines resulting from three separate EU investigations, and a fourth is underway.

“There is a frenzy of pitching ideas to her,” a source told the WSJ. 

Although tech companies have expressed they felt unfairly singled out, they do want to make peace with lawmakers.

“We want to work with governments and policymakers to design the sort of smart regulation that fosters competition, encourages innovation and protects consumers,” said a Facebook spokeswoman.

Regulation, however, should be limited so new technology can flourish. “New technology should not be banned or condemned because of its potential misuse,” Michael Punke, vice president at Amazon Web Services, wrote in a blog post. 

Laws are already being formulated concerning facial recognition and the use of robots and algorithms.

The US Justice Department is also in the midst of a big tech probe, and EU antitrust officials said they will share their intelligence.

Breaking up big tech has been a continuous debate — one that started in the EU in 2015 when the European Commission filed suit against Google for anti-competitive practices. In the aftermath of Facebook’s failure to protect consumer data and the integrity of the content it publishes, everyone is being blamed.

Big tech naysayers have said customers get hurt by the lack of competition because VCs won’t invest in challengers when no one can compete with companies as big as Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon.

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