(Bloomberg) -- Members of the European Parliament are calling for an investigation into unregistered lobbying from big technology companies and have asked the European Union to suspend any groups that broke transparency rules.
The European Commission’s Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act unleashed a “massive lobby” campaign when they were proposed in 2020, which “resorted to covert misleading ways to influence policy makers,” three members of the European Parliament wrote in a letter to President Roberta Metsola on Tuesday, which was seen by Bloomberg.
The letter — led by Dutch MEP Paul Tang and signed by the DSA’s lead author Christel Schaldemose as well as René Repasi, an MEP who worked on the DMA for the Socialist & Democrats group — alleges that big tech groups have funded various campaigns without disclosing their funding or registering with the EU’s transparency register, a practice known as “shadow lobbying.”
“The work of these shell organizations who impersonate being official representatives of groups of constituents, such as SMEs, while at the same time put forward business interests of their funders, is outrageous and harms a proper balancing of interests,” the three parliamentarians wrote.
The EU must investigate whether any of these efforts were successful, Tang said in an interview with Bloomberg.
The European Parliament approved the DMA and DSA on Tuesday. The two acts restrict how companies can target ads, ensure fair access to app stores and require major companies to make their messaging platforms work together. While the rules still need the final sign-off from the EU’s 27 member states, they could go into effect as early as spring 2023.
EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton hailed the new rules as a “historic moment in digital regulation,” and the EU’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager called the acts “strong, ambitious regulation of online platforms.”
Andreas Schwab, the lead author of the DMA, insisted that the heavy and often opaque lobbying from big tech companies did not influence the final outcomes of either text.
Lobbying and shadow lobbying “is something that happens every day on every topic,” Schwab said. The parliament’s “courageous steps show that this is not working.”
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