When it comes to taking on Big Tech, there are new sheriffs in town: Beijing and Washington.
From enacting the world’s strictest privacy law to placing guardrails against the power of America’s tech titans, the EU has long seen itself as the world’s digital policeman, offering an alternative vision to America’s techno-capitalism and China’s surveillance-heavy statism.
The pitch: We may not build the technology, but we’ll be the best at protecting you from its worst excesses.
But with China and the United States ratcheting up pressure on their tech industries this year, the EU may find its grip on that role slipping — especially as the world's rival superpowers look like they might pack a bigger punch. China is moving aggressively to assert control over companies like Alibaba, while the U.S. — with a trustbusting regulator and bipartisan support — is taking on Google and Facebook in court, after more than a decade on the sidelines.
Their emergence as regulatory heavyweights could see Europe’s influence on digital policy eventually wane, at a time when it has all but lost the battle to lead the world in actually building the devices and apps we all use.
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