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EU moves to regulate tech giants

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Tech giants including Google , Apple and Amazon will for the first time face rules governing their commercial relations with smaller businesses under a law proposed by the European Union yesterday.

The new rules will specifically target app stores, search engines, e-commerce sites and hotel booking websites such as Expedia, requiring them to be more transparent about how they rank search results and why they delist some services.

The proposal would also give companies the right to collectively sue online platforms if they do not respect the new rules on non-discrimination and transparency.

Music streaming services such as Spotify have been pushing for Brussels to address relations between platforms and businesses, saying the former have an incentive to disadvantage competitors’ services.

Apple’s entry into the music streaming field with Apple Music sparked concerns from other companies, such as Spotify, which have argued that the 30 percent cut Apple takes of subscriptions in its App Store gives its own service an unfair advantage.

Under the EU’s proposal, which will have to be approved by the European Parliament and member states before becoming law, online platforms will have to appoint mediators to deal with complaints and bear at least half the costs.

Platforms will also have to describe in their terms and conditions any differentiated treatment they give to their own services versus those offered by other businesses.

“Platforms and search engines are important channels for European businesses to reach consumers but we must make sure they are not abusing their power, and thus bring harm their business users,” said Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for the Digital Economy.

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