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EU Puts the Squeeze on Tax Avoiding US Tech Titans

Trend Summary: The EU announced yesterday its intention to rein-in the alleged tax evasion excesses of US tech giants.

The European Union this week revealed that Apple Inc owes approximately €13bn [$14.5bn] in what it politely calls "uncollected taxes" over the past decade. The move represents a new high-water mark in the bloc’s efforts to rein in the ...

... alleged tax-evasive excesses of American tech giants.

The EU's move is just the first shot in what is expected to be a busy autumn for European officials, who are pushing forward a raft of regulations and investigations aimed at altering the behavior of a cadre of US-based internet superpowers. The moves are supported by a host of players—from EU regulators in Brussels to a bevy of national authorities across the continent. They are targeting areas ranging from personal privacy to anti-competition issues.

In coming weeks, EU bodies plan to debate new telecom rules that could expand to cover services like WhatsApp, proposed legislation to push news aggregators to pay newspapers for showing snippets of content, and potential audiovisual rules that would force companies like Netflix Inc to finance European movies.

At the same time, authorities in capitals like Brussels, Paris and Berlin are pursuing investigations involving big companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook, concerning alleged tax avoidance, anticompetitive behavior and privacy concerns.

“It’s an avalanche coming,” says James Waterworth, vice president for Europe at the US-based Computer & Communications Industry Association, a lobby group that represents Amazon, Facebook, Google and Netflix. “There’s a political sense from some camps that these big, extraterritorial companies are getting away with things that need to be addressed.”

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[Estimated timeframe:Q3 2016]

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