The Digital Markets Act (DMA)an antitrust law that aims to ensure fair competition and greater choice for users by limiting the market power of large tech companies, could have far-reaching implications, some of them even outside Europe.
Among the new provisions agreed in the past few hours by Parliament and Council negotiators, the main ones are addressed to messaging providers who they should make their services “interoperable”. Basically, services like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger or iMessage they will need to be more open and offer the ability to interact with smaller messaging platforms if they require it.
According to the EU, in doing so, users should have more choice on how to send messages, without having to worry about which platform the recipient is using. It is currently unclear whether this requirement should also apply to interoperability between large messaging platforms. In the text it is written that the interoperability provisions for social networks “will be evaluated in the future”.
This is the comment of Andreas Schwabrapporteur of Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection:
The agreement ushers in a new era of technology regulation around the world. The Digital Markets Act puts an end to the ever-growing dominance of Big Tech companies which from now on will have to prove that they allow fair competition on the Internet as well. The new rules will help enforce this basic principle. Europe thus guarantees more competition, more innovation and more choice for users. With the Digital Markets Act (DMA), Europe is setting standards for how the digital economy of the future will work. It will now be up to the European Commission to rapidly implement the new rules. As the European Parliament, we have made sure that DMA delivers tangible results immediately – consumers will have the ability to use the core services of Big Tech companies such as browsers, search engines or messaging, and everything in between without losing control over their data.
Among the regulations of the Digital Markets Act there are some that prohibit companies from the possibility of “combine the personal data of users to offer targeted advertising” without first having received explicit consent, which oblige users to freely choose their browser, virtual assistants or search engines and which aim to offer users the ability to install apps from other stores.
The consequences in case of violation of these rules are decidedly severe. Indeed, the Commission can impose fines of up to 10% of total world turnover in the previous year and up to 20% in the event of repeated infringements. In the event of systematic infringements, the Commission may also prohibit the possibility of making acquisitions of other companies for a certain period of time.
We remind you that once the legal text of the DMA is finalized at a technical and controlled level, it will have to be approved by Parliament and the Council. Once this process is complete, it will take effect 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU and the rules will apply six months later. The hopes of the EU antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, is that the DMA will take effect by next October. The DMA is overdue in spite of the DSA, the Digital Services Act which has already been approved by Parliament and is now being negotiated with individual governments.