Facebooks Zuckerberg meets EUs competition chief ahead of new A.I. rules

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Zuckerberg wants to avoid EU’s ‘game changing’ regulations, analyst says

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is meeting Europe’s competition chief in Brussels Monday, at a time when regulators in the region are preparing new rules that could impact the social network’s business.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, is due to unveil new regulations on artificial intelligence (AI) Wednesday. Media reports suggest the EU could go as far as a temporary ban on the use of facial recognition. Facebook is one of many U.S. tech giants that have invested in A.I. Zuckerberg’s firm recently bought the British A.I. company Deeptide and the London-based computer vision start-up Scape Technologies.

Zuckerberg’s visit also happens at a time when European regulators are assessing whether Facebook’s data practices have disrespected competition law. Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition chief, is also looking at Google and Amazon data use in separate probes.

Facebook was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC Monday. Shares of Facebook are up by about 30% over the last 12 months.

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg answers questions about the improper use of millions of users’ data by a political consultancy, at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, in this still image taken from Reuters TV May 22, 2018
ReutersTV | Reuters

Zuckerberg said in the Financial Times Sunday that private companies like Facebook need help from regulators in defining certain aspects of their work. Facebook’s chief has called for specific regulation when it comes to elections, harmful content, privacy and data portability.

“Mark Zuckerberg has changed his tune somewhat,” Seth Wallis-Jones, principal analyst at Omdia, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” Monday.

“He has been looking at four different areas, he has been talking about things like election integrity,” Wallis-Jones said, adding that Zuckerberg is “trying to avoid, I think, looking at the competition and the taxation aspects, which are probably the most expensive.”

Facebook and other big U.S. tech firms have been under pressure in Europe, but also to some extent in the United States. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said last week it would be examining prior acquisitions by Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft.

Wallis-Jones also told CNBC that on their own these acquisitions are not anti-competitive, “but if you look at pattern-behaviour maybe it does build them into something bigger.”

Apple CEO Time Cook has previously told CNBC that it acquires a company every two to three weeks on average, looking for talent and intellectual property.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/17/facebooks-zuckerberg-meets-eus-competition-chief-ahead-of-new-ai-rules.html

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