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德法率先打击大型高科技公司,是否操之过急?

德法率先打击大型高科技公司,是否操之过急?

David Meyer 2021年01月27日
欧洲还在准备出台反垄断措施,而德法已经先行一步。

欧洲可能正在准备出台一系列涉及反垄断和非法内容的新法律,以打击大型高科技公司。不过,作为欧洲最具影响力的国家,德国和法国却不会静观其变。

1月19日,德国的竞争监管机构联邦卡特尔局(Bundeskartellamt)获得了权力,可以限制“凌驾于市场重要性之上”的科技公司的活动。例如,处于支配地位的电商巨头,自营商品的优先级不得高于平台上第三方卖家出售的产品;也不允许向竞争对手隐瞒某些数据而从中作梗。

这类滥用市场支配地位的行为在德国为非法,在欧洲其他地区也如此。最重要的区别在于:现在,德国联邦卡特尔局能够在滥用发生之前强制实行限制条例,而无需等待滥用既成事实。即使一家公司尚未在市场上占据支配地位(通常是反垄断监管机构关注的信号)、但可能很快就可以获得主导地位,联邦卡特尔局对此也能够进行干预。

两周前,德国议会批准了德国反垄断法修正案,宣布了以上变更。

跟上步伐

发布修正案的目的,是使监管机构可以跟上科技领域快速发展的步伐;科技公司往往能够很快获得巨大的影响力。为了达成目的,修正案也加速了涉及科技巨头反垄断案的法律进程:如果一家科技巨头希望对卡特尔局的判决提出上诉,案件会直达德国联邦最高法院(Germany’s Federal Court of Justice);不像绝大多数反垄断案的常见程序那样,先通过杜塞尔多夫高等地区法院(Düsseldorf High Regional Court)处理。

“德国的立法机构在这方面是国际先驱。”卡特尔局的局长安德烈亚斯•蒙特在1月19日的一项声明中称。“类似的法律也正在欧盟层面上讨论,但立法程序仍然处于初级阶段。”

其实,去年12月中旬,欧盟委员会(European Commission)就公布了期待已久的《数字市场法案》(Digital Markets Act)提案,内容与最新发布的德国反垄断法修正案大同小异。

欧盟委员会已经正式指控亚马逊(Amazon)利用卖家数据实现不正当竞争,也提出了《数字服务法案》(Digital Services Act),以迫使Facebook和推特(Twitter)等巨头提高打击虚假信息和非法内容的透明度。

然而,欧盟立法程序过于缓慢。欧盟委员会已经制定了提案,提案必须送往欧洲议会(European Parliament)和欧洲理事会(代表欧盟成员国)修正和磋商。即使各方就最终版本达成一致,新法律开始生效之前,可能还需要一段时间。通常,整个立法程序至少需要几年;如果游说太多的话,会拖更久:这两项法案可能就属于耗时过长的情况。

仇恨言论

德国在反垄断领域抢先行动的同时,法国也针对虚假信息和仇恨言论修正了法案。

两周前,法国政府修正了旨在对抗伊斯兰极端主义的“共和国原则”法案,把大型在线平台的内容审核义务纳入在内。修正案与欧盟委员会发布的欧盟范围内适用的《数字服务法案》提案极其相似,要求大型高科技公司在披露如何打击平台上非法种族歧视和恐同行为时,保持透明度。

法国数字经济部部长德里克•奥发推特称,此举“预料到了”欧盟《数字服务法案》的正式实施。按照计划,修正案将于2023年年底失效,届时《数字服务法案》可能已经生效。

在预计#DSA(《数字服务法案》)正式实施的情况下,@gouvernementFR(法国政府)提交了PJL #PrincipesRepublicains(共和国原则)修正案,引入了社交网络的审核要求,继续打击网络仇恨。

—— 德里克•奥(@cedric_o),2021年1月16日

法国也不是第一次这么干了。早在修正案推出之前,法国已经制定方案打击大型高科技公司,而不是等待欧盟颁布法律。法国坚持推行新型税种营收税,影响到了苹果(Apple)和亚马逊等巨头,也导致了与美国的严重外交冲突。为了报复,特朗普政府最近对法国商品征收了高额关税,但两周前暂停了这项行动。

操之过急

不过一部分人并不认可德国和法国的策略。

一名欧盟官员在接受的采访时称,如果法国正在把欧盟委员会的数字服务提议整合到国家法律中,期待欧盟范围内适用的最终法律不会偏离该法律,“那么他们就搞错了……这只会增加欧洲理事会层面上的讨论难度。”

与此同时,美国信息技术与创新基金会(Information Technology and Innovation Foundation)批判性地回应了德国的反垄断修正案;作为支持大型高科技公司的可靠智库,该基金会的赞助方包括亚马逊、Facebook和谷歌(Google)。

“遗憾的是,该法案忽视了以协调一致的方式正式通过欧盟法规的必要性,也忽视了解决欧洲创新缺口问题的需要。”美国信息技术与创新基金会的高级政策分析师克里斯多夫•卡鲁加蒂在1月14日发布的声明中抱怨道。

“德国修正案的风险在于,一旦2022年年初这些[欧盟]法案正式通过,修正案很快就会过时了;此外,修正案还对欧盟委员会监管数字市场造成了相当大的政治压力,要求站在德国的角度监管,而不考虑其他国家的观点。”(财富中文网)

译者:夏晴

欧洲可能正在准备出台一系列涉及反垄断和非法内容的新法律,以打击大型高科技公司。不过,作为欧洲最具影响力的国家,德国和法国却不会静观其变。

1月19日,德国的竞争监管机构联邦卡特尔局(Bundeskartellamt)获得了权力,可以限制“凌驾于市场重要性之上”的科技公司的活动。例如,处于支配地位的电商巨头,自营商品的优先级不得高于平台上第三方卖家出售的产品;也不允许向竞争对手隐瞒某些数据而从中作梗。

这类滥用市场支配地位的行为在德国为非法,在欧洲其他地区也如此。最重要的区别在于:现在,德国联邦卡特尔局能够在滥用发生之前强制实行限制条例,而无需等待滥用既成事实。即使一家公司尚未在市场上占据支配地位(通常是反垄断监管机构关注的信号)、但可能很快就可以获得主导地位,联邦卡特尔局对此也能够进行干预。

两周前,德国议会批准了德国反垄断法修正案,宣布了以上变更。

跟上步伐

发布修正案的目的,是使监管机构可以跟上科技领域快速发展的步伐;科技公司往往能够很快获得巨大的影响力。为了达成目的,修正案也加速了涉及科技巨头反垄断案的法律进程:如果一家科技巨头希望对卡特尔局的判决提出上诉,案件会直达德国联邦最高法院(Germany’s Federal Court of Justice);不像绝大多数反垄断案的常见程序那样,先通过杜塞尔多夫高等地区法院(Düsseldorf High Regional Court)处理。

“德国的立法机构在这方面是国际先驱。”卡特尔局的局长安德烈亚斯•蒙特在1月19日的一项声明中称。“类似的法律也正在欧盟层面上讨论,但立法程序仍然处于初级阶段。”

其实,去年12月中旬,欧盟委员会(European Commission)就公布了期待已久的《数字市场法案》(Digital Markets Act)提案,内容与最新发布的德国反垄断法修正案大同小异。

欧盟委员会已经正式指控亚马逊(Amazon)利用卖家数据实现不正当竞争,也提出了《数字服务法案》(Digital Services Act),以迫使Facebook和推特(Twitter)等巨头提高打击虚假信息和非法内容的透明度。

然而,欧盟立法程序过于缓慢。欧盟委员会已经制定了提案,提案必须送往欧洲议会(European Parliament)和欧洲理事会(代表欧盟成员国)修正和磋商。即使各方就最终版本达成一致,新法律开始生效之前,可能还需要一段时间。通常,整个立法程序至少需要几年;如果游说太多的话,会拖更久:这两项法案可能就属于耗时过长的情况。

仇恨言论

德国在反垄断领域抢先行动的同时,法国也针对虚假信息和仇恨言论修正了法案。

两周前,法国政府修正了旨在对抗伊斯兰极端主义的“共和国原则”法案,把大型在线平台的内容审核义务纳入在内。修正案与欧盟委员会发布的欧盟范围内适用的《数字服务法案》提案极其相似,要求大型高科技公司在披露如何打击平台上非法种族歧视和恐同行为时,保持透明度。

法国数字经济部部长德里克•奥发推特称,此举“预料到了”欧盟《数字服务法案》的正式实施。按照计划,修正案将于2023年年底失效,届时《数字服务法案》可能已经生效。

在预计#DSA(《数字服务法案》)正式实施的情况下,@gouvernementFR(法国政府)提交了PJL #PrincipesRepublicains(共和国原则)修正案,引入了社交网络的审核要求,继续打击网络仇恨。

—— 德里克•奥(@cedric_o),2021年1月16日

法国也不是第一次这么干了。早在修正案推出之前,法国已经制定方案打击大型高科技公司,而不是等待欧盟颁布法律。法国坚持推行新型税种营收税,影响到了苹果(Apple)和亚马逊等巨头,也导致了与美国的严重外交冲突。为了报复,特朗普政府最近对法国商品征收了高额关税,但两周前暂停了这项行动。

操之过急

不过一部分人并不认可德国和法国的策略。

一名欧盟官员在接受的采访时称,如果法国正在把欧盟委员会的数字服务提议整合到国家法律中,期待欧盟范围内适用的最终法律不会偏离该法律,“那么他们就搞错了……这只会增加欧洲理事会层面上的讨论难度。”

与此同时,美国信息技术与创新基金会(Information Technology and Innovation Foundation)批判性地回应了德国的反垄断修正案;作为支持大型高科技公司的可靠智库,该基金会的赞助方包括亚马逊、Facebook和谷歌(Google)。

“遗憾的是,该法案忽视了以协调一致的方式正式通过欧盟法规的必要性,也忽视了解决欧洲创新缺口问题的需要。”美国信息技术与创新基金会的高级政策分析师克里斯多夫•卡鲁加蒂在1月14日发布的声明中抱怨道。

“德国修正案的风险在于,一旦2022年年初这些[欧盟]法案正式通过,修正案很快就会过时了;此外,修正案还对欧盟委员会监管数字市场造成了相当大的政治压力,要求站在德国的角度监管,而不考虑其他国家的观点。”(财富中文网)

译者:夏晴

Europe may be gearing up to crack down on Big Tech with a set of new laws covering antitrust and illegal content, but its most influential countries—Germany and France—aren't hanging around to see how that works out.

On January 19, Germany's competition regulator—the Bundeskartellamt, or Federal Cartel Office—gained the ability to restrict the activities of tech firms that are of "overriding importance across markets." For example, a dominant e-commerce giant won't be allowed to favor its own products over those sold by third-party merchants over its platform, or to stymie its competitors by withholding certain data from them.

This sort of market abuse was already illegal in Germany, as it is elsewhere in Europe—the crucial difference is that the German watchdog can now impose restrictions before the abuse takes place, rather than having to wait until after the fact. It can even intervene in cases where a company is not yet dominant in its market (the usual signal for antitrust regulators to pay attention) but is likely to become dominant soon.

The change was heralded at two weeks ago, when the German parliament approved an amendment to the country's antitrust law.

Keeping pace

The aim is to make it possible for regulators to keep up with the rapid pace of the tech world, where companies can gain tremendous power very quickly. In line with that goal, the amendment also speeds up the legal process for antitrust cases involving tech giants—when such a company wants to appeal against a Cartel Office decision, the case will go straight to Germany's Federal Court of Justice, rather than first going through the Düsseldorf High Regional Court as is customary with most antitrust cases.

"The German legislator is an international pioneer here," said Cartel Office president Andreas Mundt in a January 19 statement. "Similar instruments are also being discussed at the European level, but the legislative process there is still at the very beginning."

Indeed, in mid-December the European Commission unveiled a long-awaited proposal called the Digital Markets Act, which covers much the same ground as the new German law.

The Commission, which has already formally accused Amazon of using merchants' data to unfairly compete with them, also proposed a Digital Services Act that would force the likes of Facebook and Twitter to be more transparent about their fight against disinformation and illegal content.

However, the European legislative process is a slow one. Now that the Commission has made its proposals, they will have to go to the European Parliament and the Council (representing EU countries) for amendment and negotiation. Then, once everyone has agreed on a final version, it will probably take some time before the new laws come into force. The whole process typically takes a couple years at least—and longer if a lot of lobbying is going on, which is likely to be the case here.

Hate speech

While Germany is jumping the gun on the antitrust front, France is doing the same regarding disinformation and hate speech.

Two weeks ago, the French government amended a bill on "republican principles"—which is mostly about combating Islamist extremism—to include content-moderation obligations for large online platforms. The amendment is extremely similar to the Commission's proposal for an EU-wide law, requiring Big Tech firms to be transparent about how they are fighting illegal racism and homophobia on their platforms.

Cédric O, France's digital economy chief, said in a tweet that the move was "in anticipation of" the EU Digital Services Act. The plan is to have the amendment expire at the end of 2023, by which time the DSA would supposedly be in place.

Le @gouvernementFR a déposé un amendement au PJL #PrincipesRepublicains introduisant des obligations de modérations aux réseaux sociaux, par anticipation du #DSA. Continuons le combat contre la haine en ligne

— Cédric O (@cedric_o) January 16, 2021

This is hardly the first time France has decided it can't wait for the EU to crack down on Big Tech. Its insistence on pushing forward with new revenue taxes, affecting the likes of Apple and Amazon, has caused a major diplomatic clash with the U.S.—the Trump administration very nearly imposed massive tariffs on French goods in retaliation, but suspended that action at two weeks ago.

Jumping the gun

Germany and France's tactics are not going down well in some quarters.

One EU official told Politico Europe that, if the French are incorporating the Commission's digital-services proposal into their national law so that the eventual EU-wide law doesn't end up deviating from it, "then they are mistaken…It merely will make discussion at the Council level more difficult."

Meanwhile, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF)—a reliably pro-Big-Tech think tank that counts Amazon, Facebook and Google among its backers—reacted critically to the German antitrust shift.

"Unfortunately, this initiative ignores both the need for European-wide regulations adopted in a concerted manner and the need to address Europe’s innovation gap," grumbled ITIF senior policy analyst Christophe Carugati in a January 14 statement.

"The initiative not only runs the risks of soon becoming obsolete once these [EU] acts are adopted in early 2022, but it also constitutes a considerable political pressure on the Commission to regulate digital markets in a way consistent with the German perspective, irrespective of other national viewpoints."

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