European regulation is slow, too slow in the eyes of citizens waiting for it outside the corridors of Brussels. But it ends up coming. This Wednesday, the European Union officially named which major internet services will be governed by a series of special rules following the approval of the new Digital Markets Act (DMA). The regulation wants to stop these network giants, which it believes have become major players in terms of how citizens access the network and should be treated.
Brussels has designated a total of 21 platforms that will be affected by the new rules. They are owned by six companies: Alphabet, which owns Google and YouTube; Meta, owner of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp; ByteDance, which is the parent company of TikTok; Apple, which controls the App Store and the Safari browser; Microsoft, with Windows and LinkedIn; And Amazon, which, in addition to the store, is coming in for its advertising service, which has gained considerable weight in recent years. The full list of affected services is at the end of the article.
From this Wednesday, these companies have six months to comply with the 21 obligations included in the new law, which the EU summarizes in one key word: “compatibility”. The digital platforms they operate will have to break down much of the boundaries they’ve built over the years to keep customers in their service ecosystems. Brussels accuses them of undermining competition and citizens’ digital freedom with these virtual borders.
What does this translate to? One of the most visible results for citizens will be that in six months or less it will be possible to send direct messages between the major social networks. Thus, Meta should, for example, allow users of other small messaging apps to write to WhatsApp users without opening an account or using the WhatsApp app. or that Instagrammers Can send messages Tiktokers without the need to change the application.
The standard also seeks to prevent the creation of walled gardens in devices. Apple will not be able to allow iPhone owners to download apps from stores other than the App Store, which will have two main effects: On the one hand, apps that want to be on the iPhone will no longer need Apple’s approval. so . On the other hand, they will have alternative routes to the App Store and up to 30% commission will be charged to the apps. Samsung, for its part, also won’t be able to predict which apps are pre-installed on its phones and which aren’t (or charge for it).
Platforms also won’t be able to treat their parent company’s other services more favorably than competitors, prevent users from uninstalling pre-installed apps or track their activity outside the platform without express consent.
New data streams
With the WFD, Brussels not only hopes to control much more effectively how they treat consumers and what they are prohibited from doing. It also wants to block the databases it owns, preventing other companies from accessing the information they generate.
Sectors such as banking will benefit from this part of the standard. For the first time, they will be able to have access to the data processed by these big technology companies, which has been one of their big requests. These new data streams must have user consent to circulate on secure highways.
The DMA began negotiations in 2019 and four years later began to take the first official steps. This is in conjunction with the new Digital Services Act (DSA), a package of measures by which the EU wants to articulate the European Internet. “We have already started discussing compliance [de la DMA] with companies that have understood that the rules of the game have changed,” said Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for Internal Market Affairs.
The law also has pressure measures to force multinational companies to comply with it. “If the solution they propose is not good enough, we will not hesitate to take forceful measures,” warned the Frenchman. Penalties for missing a DMA can reach 10% of a company’s global turnover. Fines for repeat offenders can be as high as 20%. In all cases, these maximums amount to billions of euros.
The EU has also introduced special penalties for repeat offenders to avoid situations like Meta, which is repeatedly fined for breaching European data protection but takes years to change its practices. It’s one of the biggest fears of big tech companies: committing to selling a conflicted part of their business to a third party and separating it from the parent company. So if Alphabet, for example, repeatedly violates the law with an ad service it runs from Google, it could be forced to divest or spin it off as a completely independent company.
List of services affected by the new law
- google map
- Google play
- Google Shopping
- Amazon store
- application store
- Goal shop
Samsung, which was shortlisted in July, was eventually dropped from the official list because the EU ruled that its browser, which comes pre-installed on its devices, cannot be considered a gateway to the Internet like Chrome or Safari. According to StatCounter, the browser of the Korean company occupies 4% of the world market, 64% of Google and 25% of Apple.
Brussels has also opened a more detailed investigation into four other services that could be on the list. These are Bing and Edge, Microsoft’s search engine and browser, as well as the same company’s advertising service. The fourth is iMessage, from Apple. The analysis will last for a maximum of five months and will assess the impact on the European market of these services and whether they should be considered as dedicated Internet gateways.
Source: El Diario