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Online giants will have to open ad archives to EU antitrust regulators

Dominant tech companies will have to explain how their algorithms work under proposed new EU rules and also open up their ad archives to regulators and researchers, Europe’s digital and antitrust chief said on Friday. The move is likely to impact U.S. online giants such as Alphabet unit Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook, with their treasure troves of data and lucrative online advertising businesses.

Advertising algorithms help companies target ads at the users that advertisers want to reach. European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the goal was to shed light on how these algorithms work and to make sure that companies are accountable for their decisions.

“And the biggest platforms would have to provide more information on the way their algorithms work, when regulators ask for it,” she told an event organised by research agency Algorithm Watch and the European Policy Centre. They’d also have to give regulators and researchers access to the data they hold – including ad archives,” Vestager said.

She will announce two sets of draft rules known as the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act on Dec. 2, underlining the EU’s determination to rein in tech giants and force them to play fairer. New legislation will need input from EU countries and European Parliament before it comes into force, a process that could take a year or more.