Arcep speaks - Interview

France’s telecom regulator urges Europe to tackle ‘tech monopolies’

Politico has interviewed Sébastien Soriano, head of French regulator Arcep

France’s telecom regulator Sébastien Soriano wants Europe to put an end to the tech industry’s “monopolies.” “The digital market is dysfunctional and we have never seen such an accumulation of economic power. What’s at stake is putting an end to the feudalism of a few big internet lords,” Soriano said in an interview. Soriano, who is the president of France’s telecom regulator Arcep, said Europe needs to stick to its commitment to break up monopolies, as it has done in the past. “After breaking public monopolies in the telecom, electricity and rail markets, will Europe come up to the mark to break private monopolies? Now is a time of reckoning,” he said, calling for “ambitious” regulation going beyond antitrust tools. “This is a symbolic and philosophical moment that goes way beyond digital,” he added. By the end of the year, the European Commission is expected to present the Digital Services Act, a package of legislative proposals that will include ex ante rules targeting so-called gatekeeper platforms such as Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook.

Arcep submitted its contribution to the Commission’s consultations on the proposals. It recommended looking to the telecom sector’s playbook by setting up a powerful regulatory authority that “has a toolbox of obligations and remedies, [and which] analyzes markets and identifies issues.” The regulator also put forward proposals to ensure markets are open and fair.

Google and Facebook argue that TikTok’s fast rise is evidence that digital markets allow new entrants. Do they have a point?

The issue is not competition on the social media market. What’s at stake is the internet landscape, which is currently centralized. It’s the new public space and we need to ensure it’s really open. It’s a structural issue and the internet as a whole has become dysfunctional. TikTok could even eventually become a structuring [the term used by French officials to refer to gatekeepers] platform, but just because there is a new behemoth doesn’t mean you’ve created an open space. It just means you’ve created an oligopoly.

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• Read the interview on Politico’ website :