Big Tech Firms Reset After New EU Regulations; Microsoft Has Its Eyes on Sweden –

Big Tech firms didn’t have it easy last week, as the European Union clamped down on some of the world’s largest technology companies with hefty fines, warnings and upcoming regulations that are bound to ruffle feathers in the coming weeks and months.
Read more: Big Tech Firms Face Tough Week Following EU Clamp-Down
In recent top news, European Union lawmakers are moving forward with a plan that targets what they describe as Big Tech companies’ anticompetitive practices, and will limit the power that companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft have in the digital economy.
The new rules are designed for companies with a market cap of at least 80 billion euros (about $90.7 billion) and offering at least one internet service. 
Read more: EU Finalizes Rules for Regulating Big Tech
Lawmakers also contemplated banning targeted advertising, which represents a large chunk of the revenue for companies like Google and Facebook, but the firms will only be subject to restrictions such as protection for children and more stringent transparency requirements.
Across the pond, Amazon’s U.K. users were informed this week that beginning Jan. 19, they can no longer use U.K.-issued Visa credit cards to make purchases on
Read more: UK-Issued Visa Credit Cards No Longer Accepted by Amazon Starting 2022
Amazon attributed the decision to “Visa’s continued high cost of payments,” which instead of “going down over time with technological advancements” has remained high, preventing businesses from providing the best prices to their customers.
The decision comes after the payments giant announced earlier this year that it will increase interchange charges on items ordered in the U.K. from Europe.
See also: Visa-Amazon UK Spat Puts Interchange Rates Back in the Spotlight
Even though customers will still be able to use Visa debit cards, a Visa spokesperson said they were “very disappointed that Amazon is threatening to restrict consumer choice in the future,” adding that “when consumer choice is limited, nobody wins.”
That said, the payments firm is no doubt feeling the pressure for fear of losing market share to Mastercard and American Express credit cards, and appears to want to resolve the issue before the Jan. 19 deadline.
As the spokesperson said: “We have a long-standing relationship with Amazon, and we continue to work toward a resolution.”
In other news, Alphabet Inc’s Google has agreed to a five-year deal to pay Agence France-Presse (AFP) in France for online content, marking one of the biggest licensing deals inked by a tech firm on “neighboring rights,” a requirement under a copyright law in France for Big Tech companies to engage with news publishers that want a licensing payment.
Last month, dozens of French publishers in the Alliance of the General Information Press (APIG) reached a similar neighboring-rights deal with Facebook, setting the terms for remuneration of content published and shared on the company’s platform.
The law follows years-long complaints and pressures by news organizations on the government over losing ad revenue to online aggregators such as Google and Facebook, which use content in search results or other features without payment.
On the upside, Microsoft has launched a new sustainable data center region in Sweden, as part of its commitment to cut carbon emissions, achieve zero-waste certification and run with 100% carbon-free operations, with 24/7 hourly energy matching with its partner firm Vattenfall.
“As Swedish industries and enterprises look to adopt and innovate on Microsoft’s platform, our data center investments build on our portfolio of products and services while meeting important data residency, security and compliance needs,” said Microsoft’s President Brad Smith.
Beyond this initiative, the tech giant has previously shown commitment to the advancement of digital technology in the Nordic country. To date, it has invested over $1.6 million in Sweden, targeting projects around innovation, entrepreneurship, digital skills and workforce development.

About: It’s almost go time for the holiday shopping season, and nearly 90% of U.S. consumers plan to make at least some of their purchases online — 13% more than did in 2020. The 2021 Holiday Shopping Outlook, PYMNTS surveyed more than 3,600 consumers to learn what is driving online sales this holiday season and the impact of product availability and personalized rewards on merchant preference.
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