Big Tech backlash

EU drafts plans to take on American tech giants and slap tariffs on U.S. goods

In this image, three EU flags hang from poles outside a skyscraper.
The European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters on July 25, 2019. Photo: Arne Dedert/picture alliance via Getty Images

European Union officials have a drafted 2 separate plans to "slap unilateral tariffs" on U.S. goods, block Chinese companies from engaging financially with Europe, and fortify European tech companies in competition with U.S. and Chinese firms, Politico reports.

Why it matters, via Axios' Sara Fischer: Europe’s aggressive regulatory policies have hindered its technology sector from being able to compete with American and Chinese companies on the world stage. With Brexit as a backdrop, European officials are under enormous pressure to resurrect the corporate sector.

Tech regulators put to the test

Illustration of a hand with a magnifying glass over a computer being scrutinized by a larger magnifying glass
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The backlash against giant tech companies is stressing the public institutions tasked with examining their power, as participants, observers and critics question whether regulators have the skill, will and authority to check corporate forces.

Why it matters: The machinery of antitrust regulation will process the broader conversation about tech's role in society through the mill of American politics and law — and some wonder whether it's up to the task.