London – Across the digital economy, Europe is absent.
California-based Apple and Samsung in South Korea make the most popular phones in Europe. Facebook owns the most used social networks, Google dominates online search and advertising, and Amazon controls e-commerce. European companies operate their businesses from Amazon and Microsoft to cloud infrastructure. The region’s wireless networks are largely made up of Chinese giant Huawei equipment.
On Wednesday, the European Union outlined efforts to bring officials back to what they call “technological sovereignty” with strict control of the world’s largest technology platforms, new rules for artificial intelligence and more public spending for the European technology sector.
Officials say the effort is a “generational project” and European leaders are echoing growing concerns that countries in the region are over-reliant on the services provided by companies located elsewhere. As the global economy is more centered around technology, European countries will have a harder time generating jobs and earning tax returns for government service funding.
“We are presenting our ambition to build Europe’s digital future,” said Ursula von der Lein, president of the European Commission’s European Commission’s executive branch.
The proposals introduced on Wednesday are more explicit in identifying problems than suggesting specific solutions. The commission says it will begin a consultation period that will take months before any effective legislative preparation can be made. The debate is expected to last for most of the year.
But officials had some broad ideas that would be controversial in the months ahead.
Companies that have become “gatekeepers” for business-driven technologies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google will face further scrutiny. Officials said the data they hold will have a special focus that could unfairly benefit them compared to its competitors.
Artificial intelligence technology – where computers are increasingly being trained to perform complex tasks – will lead to more government oversight, especially where automated systems create harmful risks such as health, transportation and policing, the creation commission said. We must prevent prejudice.
Policymakers also outlined criteria for sharing data across industries within the European Union, making it easier for companies to collect data separately to better compete against technology companies controlling the world’s various databases.
The debate over technology policies has caught the attention of technology giants. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, was in Brussels on Monday to meet with officials about the proposals. Top executives from Apple, Google and Microsoft have also visited the European capital for the past few weeks.