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EU opening new Silicon Valley office as it ramps up rules for Big Tech

The European Union is opening a new liaison office in California’s Silicon Valley to streamline communication with U.S. tech companies, as new laws are set to go into effect that will ramp up regulation of the technology sector in Europe.

The EU’s executive branch, the European Commission, will run the new tech embassy, according to the Wall Street Journal. Gerard de Graaf, a senior executive at the European Commission who has worked on technology legislation, will lead the office in the San Francisco Bay area.

The office will open on Sept. 1, according to the newspaper.

Big Tech companies like Apple, Google and Meta will be subject to new laws in the EU’s 27-nation member bloc.

The Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act, which were both passed and approved this spring, aim to curtail hate speech, disinformation and harmful content on social media platforms while also seeking to foster fair competition in the sector.

The Digital Services Act bans ads targeted at minors, as well as those targeting people based on their gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. It will also ban deceptive ads and techniques that aim to rope in new users. Companies not in compliance could pay billions in fines.

The Digital Markets Act is a broad law seeking to create fairer competition in the tech and online sector by limiting “gatekeeper” companies, such as Google and Apple, from monopolizing their product categories or services.

Among other changes, it will allow users to download alternative app stores and enable app developers to use alternative in-app payment systems.

To enforce the new laws, the European Commission is reportedly hiring more than 200 new staffers, The Associated Press reported.

In an interview, de Graaf told The Wall Street Journal he hopes to forge stronger ties with tech companies through the new office.

“A relationship between the regulator and the regulated is always a bit complicated. A regulator is always like a bit of a policeman,” he said, also explaining, “There’s a mutual interest in cooperating very closely.”


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