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New Chargers Show Big Tech is Bowing to Strict EU Rules

The first devices that will have to be sold according to strict EU directives will hit the European market after Apple on Tuesday presented its new iPhone with a USB-C charge point.

A European Union law requires phone manufacturers to adopt a common charging connection by December 2024 to save consumers’ money and cut waste. The iPhone 15 is the first Apple device to have a USB-C charger instead of Apple’s usual Lightning charger, after the EU ordered manufacturers to introduce identical connections.

Apple fiercely opposed the law in 2022, arguing that it would punish innovation, but the 27 EU member states make up the largest single market in the world, so they relented.

Common chargers are not the only requirements in the European Parliament’s push to make life easier for consumers and reduce waste, a Croatian member of the European Parliament, Biljana Borzan, who was one of the strongest advocates for the adoption of that act, told BIRN

“The single charger initiative is ten years old. The European Parliament then gave a mandate to the European Commission to implement it. A charger is an independent act, but in addition to mobile phones, other small devices such as tablets, game consoles, speakers, keyboards, headphones and laptops are also included,” Borzan said.

“My political group [Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament] has been the loudest about chargers. We cannot say that I was the initiator because it was initiated before I arrived in the European Parliament, but I certainly worked intensively on it,” Borzan said.

The common charger is not the only battle against Big Tech that the EU has won. Brussels believes it will win several more in the coming months.

The EU’s new technological target is artificial intelligence, AI, since the chatbot ChatGPT pointed to the rapid development of this technology last year. Brussels hopes to give a green light to a comprehensive AI law by the end of 2023.

“The directive on artificial intelligence is in the last negotiations. There are other directives that are relevant, for example, the Ecodesign Directive, but also my Directive that determines the availability of software to the consumer,” Borzan said.

The October 2022 landmark Digital Services Act, DSA, and the accompanying Digital Markets Act, DMA, are the biggest and latest attempts to rein in big tech companies.

The DSA requires companies to crack down on harmful and illegal content online and to assess the risks their platforms pose to society. Violation of the rules incur a penalty of 6 per cent of the offender’s annual global turnover.

Under the rules, 19  large internet platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, X (formerly Twitter) and YouTube, had till August this year to comply with the DSA. All platforms will have to comply by February 2024.

These major platforms have already introduced changes, including the banning of targeted advertising to children.

“Different parts of the DSA apply to different market players. Last week, the Commission published a list of ‘gatekeepers’, large platforms that will bear special responsibility for the content on them. They are not overly enthusiastic about it, and Zalando even sued the EC before the European Court because they were involved,” Borzan told BIRN.

The changes are not limited to the EU. Snapchat said it would also limit personalized advertising to minors in the UK.

The DMA is another thorn in the side of technology firms, especially Apple. The law aims to dilute the dominance of the big players and make the market fairer.

The EU has an eye on six of them, in particular: Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, Meta (Facebook), Microsoft and ByteDance (TikTok). The DMA will force Apple to allow third parties to use its App Store.

General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR, came into effect in 2018 and was the strictest and best-known EU law in the field, ensuring that citizens have to give consent to the ways in which their data will be used.

In May, Ireland’s privacy regulator imposed its largest ever single fine of €1.2 billion on Meta for transferring personal data between Europe and the US.

Source : Balkaninsight