The US prepares the squeeze on taxes and rules for Big Tech

US President Biden has just signed an executive order revoking and replacing Trump’s “TikTok ban”. But always with caution. In fact, it does not erase all the suspicions of its predecessor, and launches a review of software applications controlled by foreign adversaries to assess the risks in terms of security. Under new White House guidance, the Commerce Department will be responsible for reviewing apps “owned, controlled or subject to the jurisdiction of a foreign adversary, including China” that could present “national security risks to the United States and Americans” . The orders signed by Biden are not directed to specific applications or companies, but are based on a series of general criteria, which not only concern the security of data within the apps, but take into account, as the White House points out, the Biden administration’s goal of “promoting a secure, reliable, interoperable and open Internet, the protection of human rights online and offline, and the support of the global and vibrant digital economy.” Trump’s action, directly against TikTok and WeChat, both Chinese, branded chats as a danger to the nation as they suspected of transferring US user data to the Beijing government. The former president had first forced the sale of TikTok to an American company in order to continue operating in the US (sale avoided thanks to the indictments obtained in court by ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok), then decreed the cancellation of the two apps indicted by the American App Stores, with the e boomerang effect of a rush to download. Between agreements and legal battles, the situation dragged on until after the elections. Now the Biden administration is taking a softer, if not permissive, line. No frontal attacks, but control remains. Just as the new president seems willing to intervene in the world of Big Tech with a squeeze on antitrust controls. A draft of a new regulation is circulating among Democratic MPs that could radically change the way companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google operate. One of the points would limit the ability of these companies to operate marketplaces for goods and apps while selling their products on the same stores, introducing control over possible conflicts of interest. Another wants to make the possibility of completing large mergers more complex, and there is also discussion of more stringent controls on data protection, returning control to the user.A similar decree, always on a democratic initiative, is being voted on these days in New York State, with the explicit aim of making it easier to bring the big names to court for abuse of dominant position. Antitrust lawyers from New York firm MoloLamken called it “the most progressive antitrust change in recent US history.” Signs of an administration voted to put some firm points in the climate of laissez-fare around Big Tech, introducing more rules for competition and taxation. At least in intentions.

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