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Automatic Eyes on Big Tech Lobby Meetings

A new Twitter bot will monitor Big Tech’s access to European lawmakers in the run up to crucial votes on digital legislation

Recently deployed Twitter bot set to monitor Big Tech’s disproportionate access to EU legislators in the lead-up to the DSA/DMA votes.

Under the banner of People vs Big Tech, Global Witness -- an international NGO committed to protecting human rights and securing the future of our planet by challenging abuses of power -- has launched a new Twitter bot to monitor and publicize Big Tech’s disproportionate access to EU officials. Going forward, each time a senior EU Commission official is scheduled to meet with a Big Tech lobbyist, @EUTechWatch will automatically tweet about the meeting so that it is not allowed to slide under the radar. Global Witness will then also request information on what was discussed at the meeting via Freedom of Information Requests. The goal in shining a spotlight on Big Tech’s lobbying efforts in Brussels is to bring increased awareness and transparency to a policymaking process currently at risk of being overwhelmed by the money and influence of the digital industry.

In the lead-up to the critical votes on the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA), all eyes will be on these meetings. A recent report by LobbyControl and Corporate Europe ObservatoryThe Lobby Network: Big Tech’s Web of Influence in the EU, revealed a full 75% of high-level EU Commission meetings on the pending DSA and DMA have taken place with digital industry lobbyists -- leaving non-governmental organisations, consumer groups, and trade unions to jockey for the remaining few slots.

Additional analysis by Global Witness indicates that Big Tech lobbyists have held nearly 1,000 meetings with senior Commission officials since November 2014 (the date when officials began disclosing lobbying meetings). This is an average of more than 2.8 meetings per week. Even Covid-19 has had little effect on the frequency of these meetings. Since January 2020, Big Tech lobbyists have met with senior Commission officials almost 200 times. Big Tech’s ability to purchase such privileged access defies democratic principles and threatens to drown out the voices of those advocating on behalf of the general public and the public good.

That’s why it’s so important to follow and retweet @EUTechWatch to help ensure EU legislators prioritise people over profits on the upcoming DSA/DMA votes. Help spread the word by sharing this story or tweeting:

Today @Global_Witness together with #PeopleVsBigTech launches a new tool that tracks meetings between @EU_Commission officials & the #BigTech lobby. Follow @eutechwatch and show those trying to keep Big Tech powerful, that the world is watching.

Take a look below at some of the meetings @EUTechWatch has already highlighted. More details about the project are available from Global Witness here.