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The Maastricht Diplomat

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Heated Caucuses for the Regulation of the Big Tech

Little agreement and diversity of opinion among EU’s top diplomats at the opening session of the conference’s second day. A loud majority agrees on the risks posed by allowing the Big Tech free rein, such as small-scale digital companies being shadowed by larger companies’ monopoly in the sector, excessive control of users’ data and decline in innovation and emergence of startups due to lack of competition. Even if the risk is the same for everyone and everyone already agreed on two acts regarding the regulation of the digital sector, no harmony seems to remain yet concerning further actions.

The EU diplomats have so far grouped under two approaches: the EU-level one and one based on the country of origin. Specifically, Poland has proposed the launching of a Member State-based Free Speech Council to monitor and mitigate hate speech across digital platforms’ use. The Netherlands supports such an approach and Malta as well despite questioning the need for such a council – freedom of speech shall be free, regulating it is rather ironic. Besides the Maltese philosophical distraction, France, Germany, Denmark and Spain advocated for a EU-level body promoting common values and working for free speech in the digital sphere.

The outcome is still open to shifts in opinion, more caucuses and further (dis)agreement. Hopefully discussions will take soon a more specific path so as to define issues such as the algorithmic regulation of meta-platforms –whether these should or should not be of public domain– and how competition shall be managed in favor of small and medium-sized companies. With nothing being established yet, the second day enter it's final phase.


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