EU Digital Markets Act

The EU Digital Markets Act became law in 2022 and its terms began to apply from May 2023.

Major Internet content providers needed to register as gatekeepers before July 3rd 2023.  Seven declared that they met the set thresholds of turnover and number of business users.

  • Alphabet (Google)
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • ByteDance (TikTok)
  • Meta (Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp)
  • Microsoft
  • Samsung

It is likely that others will join the list of gatekeepers in future.  The EU will confirm gatekeeper membership within 45 days of an application.  They will then be allowed 6 months to comply with the rules set by the EU Digital Markets Act.

These are legal obligations regarding privacy and openness of services.  Prohibitions include:

  • The use of customer’s personal data for 3rd party services.
  • Preventing users from making complaints to public authorities.
  • Requiring users to use linked services such payment or technical engines.
  • Establishing disproportionate termination conditions for business users.

Gatekeepers also are subject to obligations including:

  • Allowing the use of 3rd party apps or app stores that do not endanger the integrity of the device.
  • Allowing Instant Messenger Services to interact with other applications.
  • Ensuring portability of end users’ data to other applications.

The EU can impose fines for non-compliance of up to 10% of a company’s worldwide annual turnover and up to 20% of such turnover in the event of repeated infringements.

These laws apply within the EU but not the UK whose Digital Markets Legislation; which as of July 2023 is still passing through the Commons.  The two sets of laws share little in common although they posess the same aims of putting controls in place onto the major Internet businesses.  The EU legislation is a clear set of rules whereas the UK law envisages codes of conduct negotiated for individual enterprises.

We are already seeing some consequences of the EU legislation.  The Twitter rival Threads has not been launched in the EU allegedly due to the need to comply with the Digital Markets Act.   Apple are preparing for 3rd party IOS App stores in Europe.  It is probable that some of the effects of the EU law will bleed into the UK as compliance will make it easier to also fit in with the upcoming UK legislation.  Also harmonising platform content across national barriers will make systems less complex and easier to maintain.

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