The European Union filed antitrust charges against Google earlier this month, but according to a document obtained by The Wall Street Journal, regulators have considered taking a more radical step: creating an entirely new entity to curb the power of companies like Google and Facebook.
The document lists 32 companies, mostly US-based
According to the Journal, senior officials at the EU prepared the document for Digital Commissioner Günther Oettinger in February. The document lists 32 "online platforms" — mostly US-based, among them Amazon, Google, and Etsy — that could exercise major power over the rest of the economy. The paper suggests the possibility of creating a new "supervision framework" to oversee such companies — new regulations could ban companies from, say, favoring their own services over another company's. (This has been a focus in the antitrust charges against Google.) The regulations could also prevent companies from using their power to keep sellers from offering goods for less money on other services.
To make sure those regulations are enforced, the paper suggests a new "EU-wide body" could be created to oversee the companies, according to the Journal. That regulator would have the power to scrutinize information on how the companies use data, and to act as an intermediary in any disputes.
The idea of a new regulator is a long way from becoming law. As the Journal points out, the ideas would have to be formally proposed and approved by European governments. But in the meantime, new, relatively mild plans for Europe's digital sector are expected to be unveiled next month, when the EU will call for a "comprehensive investigation" of such companies.