EU targets Big Tech with “hit list” facing tougher rules

A Facebook logo in front of an EU flag in this photo illustration on November 20, 2017.
Enlarge / A Facebook logo in front of an EU flag in this photo illustration on November 20, 2017.

EU regulators are drawing up a “hit list” of up to 20 large Internet companies, likely to include Silicon Valley giants such as Facebook and Apple, that will be subject to new and far more stringent rules aimed at curbing their market power.

Under the plans, large platforms that find themselves on the list will have to comply with tougher regulation than smaller competitors, according to people familiar with the discussions, including new rules that will force them to share data with rivals and an obligation to be more transparent on how they gather information.

The list will be compiled based on a number of criteria, including market share of revenues and number of users, meaning the likes of Facebook and Google are likely to be included. Those deemed to be so powerful that rivals cannot trade without using their platforms could also be added.

The move to gain new powers is part of a growing effort in Brussels to force big technology companies to change their business practices without a full investigation or any finding that they have broken existing laws.

It follows complaints that the current regulatory regime has resulted in weak and belated action, which has done little to foster competition.

The number of companies and the precise criteria for the list is still being discussed, but it is the latest indication of how serious the EU is about coming up with powers to limit the power of platforms seen as “too big to care.”

“The immense market power of these platforms is not good for competition,” said a person with intimate knowledge of the discussions.

The proposals, which are still being discussed among senior EU officials, could

Facebook takes tougher stance against QAnon content

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Facebook is cracking down on QAnon.


Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook said Tuesday that it’ll take down Facebook pages, groups and Instagram accounts representing QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory that falsely alleges there’s a “deep state” plot against President Donald Trump, even if posts don’t contain violent content.

The social network’s tougher stance comes after Facebook said in August that it would remove these QAnon accounts, pages and groups when they discussed potential violence, and would limit the reach of users tied to the movement.

Facebook said it’s taking strong action against QAnon content because it’s seen posts that included different forms of harm, such as false claims that certain groups started the west coast wildfires. Misinformation about the wildfires diverted the attention of local officials fighting the fires.

“Additionally, QAnon messaging changes very quickly and we see networks of supporters build an audience with one message and then quickly pivot to another. We aim to combat this more effectively with this update that strengthens and expands our enforcement against the conspiracy theory movement,” Facebook said.

The social network said it removed more than 1,500 QAnon pages and groups that contained discussions of potential violence. The company also pulled down over 6,500 pages and groups tied to more than 300 militarized social movements.

At the same time, Facebook has been criticized by advocacy groups and politicians for not acting quickly enough to curb the spread of QAnon content. Some lawmakers praised Facebook for taking a tougher stance against QAnon but said they’d keep an eye on how the policy gets implemented. 

“Ultimately the real test will be whether Facebook actually takes measures to enforce these new policies — we’ve seen

Germany’s stock exchange plans tougher rules after Wirecard scandal

Bull and bear statues outside Frankfurt's stock exchange. Photo: Alex Domanski/Reuters
Bull and bear statues outside Frankfurt’s stock exchange. Photo: Alex Domanski/Reuters

Deutsche Börse, Germany’s stock exchange operator, is considering stringent new admission rules as part of reforms in the wake of the Wirecard accounting-fraud scandal.

It is also proposing increasing the size of the blue-chip DAX index (^GDAXI) from 30 to 40 companies.

“It’s no secret that I personally would welcome the expansion of the Dax 30 to a Dax 40,” said Deutsche Börse chief executive Theodor Weimer on Monday. “I am looking forward to the result and am sure that the further development of the criteria will help the German capital market to achieve further quality.”

READ MORE: German lawmakers to launch parliamentary probe into Wirecard scandal

Investors have until 4 November to submit their comments on the stricter new admission criteria, which include banning companies from the DAX if they don’t submit their accounts on time.

Members of all the German indices, which include the DAX, MDAX, TecDAX and SDAX, would also need to show proof of an audit committee on their supervisory board in future.

The new proposals say that companies should be demonstrably profitable before they can move up into the leading DAX index.

In addition, firms making more than 10% of their revenue from controversial weapons sales would be excluded from the indices, which include the DAX, MDAX, TecDAX and SDAX.

As part of the proposals, the small-cap MDax would shrink by 10, to a total of 60 companies.

The German financial world and the political establishment has been rocked by the enormous scandal at payments company Wirecard, after it emerged in June this year that billions were missing from its balancesheet.

READ MORE: Germany’s financial regulator chief rules out resigning over Wirecard scandal

Wirecard declared bankruptcy in June, and was ejected from the DAX