The Lobby Leaks hotline lets users anonymously report any shady lobbying practices they’ve witnessed to independent NGOs.
A group of MEPs and NGOs have launched a website to let staff within European institutions discreetly report any “shady lobbying” being conducted by Big Tech companies.
The new site – called Lobby Leaks – aims to keep corporate lobbying transparent within the EU by letting users anonymously report any examples of shady practices they’ve witnessed.
The website said any submissions are confidential and untraceable, with anything shared being stripped of personal information or metadata that can link back to whoever submits the report.
The site also says it will “never allow” for the identification of those who send submissions without their explicit consent.
The hotline is a joint initiative of German NGO LobbyControl – which provides information on lobbying – and Brussels-based campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory. The site also has the support of several MEPs.
The site said any information that is shared is given solely to the two NGOs, “completely independent of European political institutions or industry”.
Some examples of shady lobbying shared by the website include lobbyists not disclosing their employer or client, social media messages that aren’t being clear that its lobbying, targeted advertisements on personal social media to try influence individuals, and lobbyists falsely claiming to work for an SME umbrella organisation.
Lobbying must be transparent. But is it always?
— Paul Tang (@paultang) February 2, 2023
“As the EU tries to rein in the most problematic aspects of Big Tech – from disinformation, targeted advertising to unfair competition practices – the digital giants are lobbying hard in an often opaque and misleading manner,” the hotline site says.
Upcoming regulation for Big Tech
The new hotline comes as the EU pushes forward with two landmark pieces of legislation that aim to reign in the power of Big Tech.
One of these batches of new rules is the Digital Markets Act, which aims to crack down on anti-competitive behaviour by Big Tech and level the playing field in digital markets.
The DMA pushes for greater competition within the EU to improve choices for consumers. It was approved last year and will become applicable in May 2023, with compliance required by March 2024.
The other piece of legislation is the Digital Services Act, which the EU has previously described as “a world first in the field of digital regulation”. It sets out to make the internet safer with new rules for all digital services, from social media platforms to search engines to online marketplaces. Affected service providers have until 1 January 2024 to comply with the new regulations.
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