Margrethe Vestager to Head EU Digital Affairs Too

Posted on September 10, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Amazon, Apple, Cloud, Google, Mobile, Smart Home with 6 Comments

European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has been given additional responsibilities related to digital affairs. And yes, that’s bad news for U.S.-based tech giants.

“Executive vice-president Margrethe Vestager will lead our work on a Europe fit for the digital age,” EC president-elect Ursula von der Leyen said at a press conference today. “Digitalization has a huge impact on the way we live, we work, we communicate. In some fields Europe has to catch up. For example, in the field of business to consumer but in other fields we’re excellent. Europe is the frontrunner, for example in business to business, when we talk about digital twins of products and procedures.”

Under the new administration, Vestager will retain her position as Competition Commissioner, so this expansion of her responsibilities is a promotion and it suggests that she will expand EU efforts at reigning in Big Tech. To date, Vestager has amassed massive legal victories over both Google and Apple, and she’s targeting Amazon, Facebook, and Google with further investigations already.

As the chief of the EU’s digital affairs, Vestager’s responsibilities will extend beyond antitrust to include the pending 5G rollout and whether—and where—Huawei and other Chinese firms will be allowed to participate. She will also work on EU guidelines related to ethical AI—a big push by Microsoft worldwide—and how big data can be used without violating individual privacy. And Vestager has been further charged with overseeing the EU’s cybersecurity efforts.

“Vestager has done an outstanding job as a commissioner for competition,” von der Leyen said. “At competition and the issues she’s tackling, there are closely linked to the digital sector too. So having her as an executive vice-president for the digital in Europe is absolutely a perfect combination.”


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Comments (6)

6 responses to “Margrethe Vestager to Head EU Digital Affairs Too”

  1. RobertJasiek

    That Vestager may continue as commissioner for competition makes me happy. It remains to be seen whether she can also handle digitalisation equally well.

  2. bdollerup

    It's not "bad news for U.S.-based tech giants", it's bad news for U.S.-based tech giants that fail to abide by EU laws.

    • wright_is

      In reply to bdollerup:

      Exactly, if the companies stay inside the privacy and competition laws, they have nothing to worry about.

      If you actually look at what they do, the US tech industry steps out of line a lot and therefore gets a lot of press, but there have been a lot more sectors and companies that have received fines over the years.

      At least this report looks at some of the other areas her commission is responsible for. Some of the US tech press really seem to think she is just out to cripple the US tech giants, which is clearly not the case, they seem to be doing that all by themselves. I found this report to be a lot less biased than many US commentators.

    • panderse

      In reply to bdollerup:

      Indeed. I think it is clear that for example Microsoft has learned from the past and is today striving to stay compliant with EU laws. Results are clear: None of the ongoing investigations relate to Microsoft.

      The European Union is setting higher standards for privacy and competition, benefiting us all in the long run as tech companies begin to adjust. While minor elements of EU regulation might be silly (accepting cookies for example) the vast majority of the new regulations have tangibly improved EU citizens' ability to control privacy options and opt out of data collections they rarely even knew took place in the past.

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