Looking to the EU for internet regulation

Policing the internet is not easy. But that shouldn’t be the case. Like any other industry, the Internet is huge and no one solution can solve all its problems. However, for the industry to not only continue to grow but also benefit consumers, regulation is necessary.

While internet regulation in the United States is considered old and outdated, that is not the case around the world. Most notably, the European Union has committed to new internet regulations to govern the growing tech industry. Although the United States cannot copy all EU regulations due to differences in their respective legal systems, it still provides an insightful case study into the effectiveness of Internet regulation. Given this, the United States should pay close attention to recent EU technical regulations and litigation to inform its own policies.

Historically, the United States’ relationship with Internet regulation has been tenuous at best. Despite repeated pushes for federal internet regulations, whether regarding teen safety or data protection, these attempts almost always fail. This inaction stems from the fact that lawmakers continue to find problems with certain aspects of the proposed regulations but do not allow them to advance in Congress. However, by basing U.S. legislation on actual regulation in other countries, it may be immune to these widespread criticisms.

The European Union, one of the world’s largest economies, is a perfect example of real-world regulation. Unlike the United States, the European Union is at the forefront of Internet regulation. Along with other new regulations over the past decade, the EU passed the General Data Protection Regulation – a law that prioritizes user privacy and security on the internet and imposes penalties even on non-EU companies. Recently, the European Union enacted the Digital Markets Act, which enforces fair trade across the Internet and prevents monopolies in various online markets.

These two EU laws represent only a small part of the actions they are taking to regulate the internet. In addition to the recently enacted DMA, the EU has also fined Apple $2 billion for its market dominance in the App Store and damage caused to music streaming apps. In particular, Apple has restricted the sale of apps in its own App Store, which has steered consumers away from cheap streaming services and toward Apple’s music streaming service. By imposing hefty fines on Apple and other companies for antitrust violations, the EU is forcing them to demonstrate their ability to adapt to tighter regulations. Subsequently, the EU enforced laws and fines to show other countries that these companies could actually be regulated.

The latest development is that the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Apple for allegedly monopolizing the mobile phone market. It’s unclear which side will win in court. The new case is a microcosm of a broader question: How feasible is regulation of Big Tech in the U.S. legal system?

While regulation may be effective in unions without any large companies based there, how does the situation change when the headquarters of a large company is co-located with the site of regulation? Companies like Apple, Google, and Meta—all operating in the United States—are the second, fifth, and seventh largest companies in the world by market capitalization and are an integral part of the U.S. economy.Unlike the EU, US internet regulation affects the internet and economy, making it a difficult area to regulate easily. However, this certainly does not mean that the United States should ignore the successful Internet regulations developed by the European Union.

EU internet regulations are not an exact one-to-one blueprint; the United States should adapt because it works. Rather, they demonstrate that certain regulations can work beyond theory—and that’s a powerful thing. While the GDPR and DMA succeeded by preventing millions of people from losing their data to companies that sell it for profit, or by making the internet fairer for small companies that use their data, the United States and its officials found that domestic adaptation These provisions are feasible.

Getting regulation exactly right the first time is difficult. But when a coalition of countries with nearly 500 million people can demonstrate that Internet regulation works, the United States should not ignore it. As the United States continues its seemingly endless battle to enact new internet regulations, a look at the European Union may provide the evidence needed that many internet regulations are more feasible than they appear.

Thomas Muha is an opinion columnist who writes about the legal and economic issues facing technology and the Internet.He can be reached at tmuha@umich.edu or @TJMooUM

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