Minister of Culture to fight tech giants

Working to build a Nordic coalition to tax big companies

Anette Trettebergstuen

Photo: Stian Lysberg Solum / NTB
Anette Trettebergstuen, Norway’s minister of culture and gender equality wants the Nordic countries to work together to regulate the tech giants.


“We simply have to get this regulated better,” said Minister of Culture and Gender Equality Anette Trettebergstuen (Labor) in regard to the big tech companies. She now wants to build a common Nordic front.

“Companies like Google and Facebook mean so much in the lives of so many, but we know little about how they work, they do not pay taxes, and they remove content they do not like,” said Trettebergstuen to NTB.

“This is one of the topics for which I believe we must find better common solutions, and thus, I want the Nordic Council ministers and the Nordic countries to stand together in the fight,” she said.

The newly appointed minister was in Copenhagen, Denmark to meet with her Nordic colleagues for the first time on Nov. 2. Later in December, Norway will take over the chair of the Nordic Council of Ministers, and then Trettebergstuen has, in her own words, “big plans.”

“No single country is large enough to regulate or catch up with the big tech giants alone, but within European Union (EU) cooperation and within the Nordic region, we have the opportunity to take joint action, and that is one of the things I want us to do and will do to a greater extent,” she said.

Stordalen’s solution

Previously, hotel magnate Petter Stordalen has called for a common Nordic tax plan for technology companies because it has taken too long for the EU to build a taxation framework.

“Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish authorities say it is difficult, and yes, it is quite possible that it is difficult. But we have managed to drill for oil at 4,000 meters. We have managed everything possible that is super-difficult. Taxing these [tech giants] can be very difficult,” Stordalen told Klassekampen in 2019.

“Perhaps the Nordic countries should say that this challenges the entire financing of the welfare state, and we will issue taxes with a harmonized tax model in the Nordic countries. There are 25 million people here. If they do not like it, they should not be allowed to do business here,” Stordalen said at the time.

Other solutions

Since then, little has been put in place, but Trettebergstuen emphasizes that a lot is going on. She does not think a separate Nordic tax plan, as Stordalen outlined, is the way to go.

“Now there are important processes underway in the EU. There are two directives that go on the terms of competition for these platforms and the more substantive on the platforms. And then there are tax processes underway in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and this is where I believe that we Nordic people should stand together and be active in these decades,” she said.

Challenges the free press

Trettebergstuen believes that there are several reasons why the behavior of the large, international technology companies is problematic. Among other things, she believes that they challenge freedom of expression and the free press, both financially and in terms of content.

“It is the cornerstone of democracy, and it must also be defended in the current processes,” she said.

The Minister of Culture pointed out that editor-controlled contributors [who post on social media]  experience having their content removed from social media, even though it has already undergone editorial assessments.

“We simply have to regulate this better. I think we can and should do that, and then we must stand together in the Nordic region,” said Trettebergstuen.

Translated by Lori Ann Reinhall

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 19, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.

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NTB (Norsk Telegrambyrå), the Norwegian News Agency, is a press agency and wire service that serves most of the largest Norwegian media outlets. The agency is located in Oslo and has bureaus in Brussels, Belgium, and Tromsø in northern Norway