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Big Tech accused of shady lobbying in EU Parliament

Big Tech companies like Google, Meta and Amazon have deceived lawmakers by lobbying through smaller front organizations, leading lawmakers claimed, asking for the firms to be banned from engaging with European Union institutions.

Leading Social-democrat lawmakers Paul Tang, René Repasi and Christel Schaldemose on Thursday submitted complaints against eight companies and lobbying groups to the EU's lobbying body, the EU transparency register, according to documents seen by POLITICO.

The MEPs asked for an investigation into Google, Facebook's parent company Meta and Amazon, as well as large lobbying groups including tech trade association the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and advertisers' group IAB Europe. Three other lobbies representing small and medium-sized companies — SME Connect, Allied for Startups and Connected Commerce Council — are also targeted by the complaints.

The politicians also want representatives of the eight organizations to be blocked from entering EU institutions to meet with policymakers, lawmakers and diplomats if the watchdog finds the allegations merited.

According to the lawmakers' complaints, the Big Tech companies deceived European lawmakers during negotiations on two landmark EU tech laws, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and Digital Services Act (DSA), by hiding behind fronts: lobbies allegedly representing small and medium-sized companies, to which they provided funding and instructions. Meanwhile, the lobbies "pretended to be the official representatives of SMEs while at the same time promoting and defending the business interests of Big Tech," without disclosing their connections, they added.

They said bigger groups like CCIA and IAB Europe reached out to lawmakers on behalf of "Targeting Startups," which was not registered.

"This is foul play," said Tang, a Dutch MEP. "It violates the entirety of transparency on lobbying; you need to identify yourself, we need to know to know as MEPs or as other officials in the European Union who we deal with."

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