Silicon Valley’s Biggest Foe Is Getting Even Tougher
By Adam Satariano and Matina Stevis-Gridneff
Margrethe Vestager spent the last five years developing a well-earned reputation as the world’s top tech industry watchdog. From her perch overseeing Europe’s competition rules, she fined Google more than $9 billion for breaking antitrust laws, and forced Apple to pay about $14.5 billion for dodging taxes.
Now she says that work, which made her a hero among tech critics, did not go far enough. The biggest tech companies continue to test the limits of antitrust laws, behave unethically and push back against government intervention, she said.
But she said the public’s growing skepticism about technology has given her an opportunity for a tougher approach.
“In the last five years,” Vestager said in an extended interview, “some of the darker sides of digital technologies have become visible.”
So Vestager, a 51-year-old former Danish lawmaker, is doubling down. She has signed on for a rare second five-year term as the head of the European Commission’s antitrust division, and assumed expanded responsibility over digital policy across the 28-nation bloc.
With the new power, she has outlined an agenda that squarely targets the tech giants. She’s weighing whether to remove some protections that shield large internet platforms from liability for content posted by users. She is also working on policies to make companies pay more taxes in Europe and investigating how the companies use data to box out competitors.
Vestager has pledged to create the world’s first regulations around artificial intelligence and called for giving collective bargaining rights to so-called gig economy workers like Uber drivers. The push comes on top of an investigation into Amazon’s use of data to gain an edge on competitors that had already started, and her look into accusations of unfair business practices by Facebook and Apple.
“She has these accomplishments, but she didn’t get as much as she wanted,” said David Balto, a former lawyer in the Justice Department’s antitrust division whose clients now include large tech companies. “Now she can be more aggressive.”
But Vestager’s agenda amounts to a wish list. Her success will depend on support and collaboration from other European officials who are already grappling with challenges like Britain’s exit from the European Union, the rise of populism and fraying diplomatic relations with the United States.
It will require standing up to relentless resistance from the tech companies, too.
“One of the important things is, of course, to prioritize because otherwise you will be in the process of back and forth for a very, very long time,” Vestager said.
Tough是指不妥協的，相關詞有tough guy（硬漢）、tough cookie（非正式用語，指意志堅強的人）。
As Climate Risks Rise, More Cities Tell Developers ‘No’
By Christopher Flavelle and John Schwartz
Glimpsed from a kayak on West Neck Creek, this swampy piece of land, a pocket of red maple and loblolly pine tucked behind growing subdivisions, does not look like the stuff of existential debate.
But this is where Virginia Beach, squeezed between the clamor for new housing and the relentlessness of flooding worsened by climate change, decided to draw its line in the mud.
The city last year became one of a small but growing number of communities willing to say no to developers – despite their political and economic clout – when it rejected a proposal to build a few dozen homes on this soggy parcel of 50 acres, arguing that those homes would be unsafe. The developers sued, accusing officials of making their project a scapegoat as voters clamored for action after disastrous flooding.
In May, a judge ruled that Virginia Beach was within its rights to stop the development. The city’s experience could become a harbinger for others nationwide.
“It’s a confrontation with reality,” Bobby Dyer, Virginia Beach’s mayor, said in an interview in his office. “Not everybody’s going to be happy.”
As the Trump administration reverses efforts to fight global warming, local officials around the country are forced to grapple with more intense flooding, hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters. That pressure is colliding with development, which provides jobs, homes and taxes but which also can increase the future risk of disaster as construction spreads into floodplains or forests that are prone to calamity.
The outcome of that battle will shape Americans’ vulnerability to climate change for generations – and so far, development seems to be prevailing. In many coastal states, homes are going up at the fastest rate in the most flood-prone areas. The number of new houses in what experts call the wildland-urban interface, where the wildfire threat tends to be greatest, increased 41% nationwide between 1990 and 2010.
But as the financial and emotional costs of disasters increase, so does the evidence of a shifting mindset.
The Pew Charitable Trusts, a research and advocacy group, released a report describing how a few cities and states have successfully reduced flooding vulnerability. Their actions are “a recipe for success” for others, said Laura Lightbody, director of Pew’s flood-prepared communities initiative.
The examples include Norfolk, Virginia, which last year imposed new rules on developers, including a requirement that every new home be elevated.