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  • David Hubert

EU names Big Tech Gatekeepers - will the Brussels Effect bite?

Updated: Sep 14, 2023



The European Commission has named six gatekeepers under the new Digital Markets Act (DMA) - 5 of which are US companies - Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta, Microsoft. They will now have six months to ensure full compliance with the DMA obligations for each of their designated core platform services (see list below). Samsung, who had been named as a potential gatekeeper, didn't make this list.


This is a milestone in the application of the DMA, which will force the largest firms to change their ways to ensure a fairer digital market, both for consumers of these services and for business users who use the service as a means to reach customers. Here are a few indicative examples of the dos and don'ts gatekeepers will have to abide with from 6 March 2024:


  • Allow end users to easily un-install pre-installed apps

  • Allow end users to install third party apps or app stores

  • Allow end users to unsubscribe from core platform services of the gatekeeper as easily as they subscribe to them;

  • Allow business users to promote their offers and conclude contracts with their customers outside the gatekeeper's platform;

  • Ban on using the data of business users when gatekeepers compete with them on their own platform;

  • Ban on ranking the gatekeeper's own products or services in a more favourable manner compared to those of third parties;

  • Ban on requiring app developers to use certain of the gatekeeper's services (such as payment systems or identity providers) in order to appear in app stores of the gatekeeper;

  • Ban on processing, combining, or cross using personal data from multiple sources, including the gatekeeper’s core platform services without appropriate justification, including end user consent

  • Ban on tracking end users outside of the gatekeepers' core platform service for the purpose of targeted advertising, without effective consent having been granted by the end user.


There will be fines of up to 10% of a firm’s global revenues for breaking some of the most serious competition rules, and even up to 20% for repeat offenders.


Brussels effect/efficiency


Proponents of the landmark DMA regulation hope that it will have a “Brussels effect” on the rest of the world, in particular in the USA. And whereas US politicians have slammed the DMA as unfairly targeting big US companies, (see Sen. Ted Cruz’s rant), it is worth noting that a similar bill was proposed in the US congress 6 months after the EU Commission proposed the DMA. But whereas the EU has managed to fast-track the adoption of the DMA in under 2 years, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act proposed in June 2021 is slower off the line. Maybe this latest milestone in the implementation of the DMA will have a Brussels Effect and Big Tech companies in the US will nudge their legislator to adopt a similar rulebook so as to standardize the regulatory environment globally.




Gatekeepers:

Apple

App Store (Intermediation)

Safari (Browser)

IOS (Operating system)


Alphabet

Chrome (Browser)

Google Android (Operating system)

Google (Ads)

Google Search (Search engine)

Google Play (Intermediation)

Google Maps (Intermediation)

Google Shopping (Intermediation)

Youtube (Video sharing)


Amazon

Amazon (Ads)

Amazon Marketplace (Intermediation)


Meta Platforms

Meta (Ads)

Facebook (Social network)

Instagram (Social network)

WhatsApp (Messaging services)

Messenger (Messaging services)

Meta Marketplace (Intermediation)


Bytedance

Tik Tok (Social network)


Microsoft

LinkedIn (Social network)

Windows PC OS (Operating system)



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