Today, the European Consumer Organization (BEUC) announced that Ministers from EU countries approved the Digital Markets Act (DMA) clearing the last hurdle before becoming final EU law and coming into force. As a set of rules, the DMA comprises obligations and prohibitions for Big Tech companies to ensure they do not stifle innovative competitors or use unfair business practices.
With the following rules, the DMA is to create fair and more competitive digital markets and greater consumer choice and protection:
- Users should be free to decide which apps and services they want to use. For this reason, technology companies such as Google will no longer be able to steer users to their own products in search results, so that they are displayed in preference to the competition. In addition, it will no longer be possible for Apple to force consumers to use its own payment service for in-app purchases.
- Big tech gatekeepers should no longer be able to combine personal data collected through their core platform services with data from other sources without users' consent, according to the DMA. Accordingly, digital company Meta could no longer combine data between its Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp services without complying with these requirements.
- Instant messaging providers are to have the option of opting to include interoperability in the future. This would mean that Telegram or Signal users could now exchange messages with WhatsApp users.
Ursula Pachl, BEUC Deputy Director General, noted: "Today marks a milestone in terms of rebalancing digital markets and stopping some of the worst anticompetitive practices by Big Tech in the EU. For too long, consumers have suffered from a lack of choice while Big Tech gamed different parts of the market to their advantage. Through this new EU legislation, consumers will now get a genuine choice about which apps or services they want to use rather than be steered toward Big Tech’s own products. It is good news to hear that the Commission is planning to build a task force to implement and enforce the DMA. However, it is vital that the Commission can hire all the experts it needs, including behavioral scientists, data scientists and AI experts. If the Commission does not obtain the necessary in-house expertise and resources, the risk is that the DMA is hamstrung by ineffective enforcement and Big Tech is let off the hook."