As part of the latest crackdown on Big Tech, the EU has singled out 22 so-called “gatekeeper” services run by six of the world’s largest tech firms to tackle the new rules. The broad-ranging Digital Markets Act (DMA) will apply to services offered by Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, Microsoft and TikTok owner ByteDance.

Many see DMA as companion legislation to the Digital Services Act (DSA), which requires tech companies to take greater responsibility for the content they share on their sites. level playing field.

Tech giants now have six months to comply with the DMA’s rules, which aim to improve access and compatibility of services in Europe and present unprecedented challenges to the companies’ business models.

According to the DMA, companies with more than 45 million monthly active users and a market capitalization of 75 billion euros ($82 billion) are considered gatekeepers for providing core platform services.

Businesses with such labels would be required to make their messaging apps interoperable with competitors and let users decide which apps to pre-install on their devices.

Alphabet’s Google has the largest number of services, including its Android operating system, maps and search, which will face stricter rules. Meta’s Facebook, Instagram, Marketplace and WhatsApp also qualify as gatekeepers.

Companies that fail to meet their obligations can be fined up to 10% of their global annual turnover for DMA violations.

Gatekeepers could ask for interim measures to suspend the rules, but they would need to take legal action to the EU court of justice in Luxembourg to do so, a senior European Commission official said. “So far we haven’t seen anything like this.”

Zalando took the commission to court in June after introducing separate legislation, the Digital Services Act.

“Today is D-Day for #DMA!” EU industry chief Thierry Breton said on X (formerly Twitter). “The most influential online companies must now abide by our EU rules.”

mixed reaction

A Microsoft spokesman said it accepted its “gatekeeper” designation, while spokespeople for Meta, Google and Amazon said they were reviewing the designations.

Apple and TikTok are less popular.

TikTok said it “fundamentally disagrees with the decision” and was “disappointed that no market research was conducted prior to this decision,” adding that it was considering next steps.

An Apple spokesperson said the company remains “very concerned about the privacy and data security risks that DMA poses to our users.”

The iPhone maker had earlier worried that DMA would lead to more non-Apple App Store app installations, known as “sideloading.”

Stavroula Vryna, a partner at law firm Clifford Chance, said: “The Commission should strike a balance between the need to protect user security and privacy and the need for gatekeeper app stores to dilute compliance with DMA obligations under the pretext of security and privacy.”

Alphabet’s Gmail, Microsoft’s Outlook and Samsung’s browser were exempted because the companies provided sufficiently reasonable arguments that the services did not qualify as gatekeepers, the committee said.

The Commission also launched four market investigations to further evaluate Microsoft and Apple’s submissions that some of their core platforms, such as Bing, Edge Microsoft Advertising, and Apple’s iMessage service, do not qualify as gateways.

An Apple spokesperson said: “iMessage is designed and marketed for individual consumer communications, and we look forward to explaining to the Commission why iMessage is not within the scope of the DMA.”

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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