Europe agrees on new tech rule package
Major tech giants may have to reshape parts of their corporations due to new competition rules in Europe.
The rules, among other things, require companies to obtain "explicit consent" before targeting ads based on individual data, require messaging platforms like Apple's iMessage and Meta's WhatsApp to send information to smaller services, and require large platforms to give people the option to choose their preferred browser, search tool, and unique voice assistant.
The Digital Markets Act, which tries to remedy what the European Union regards as a lack of competition in the digital sector, came to a close Thursday in Brussels. The idea is expected to be approved by the European Parliament by the summer. Passage of the legislation, which was initially presented in 2020, is a primary goal for current EU President Emmanuel Macron of France.
Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president at the European Commission, Tweeted that "We have achieved something unprecedented, legislation that paves the way to open, fair, contestable digital markets, so everybody has a fair chance of making it," adding that "The gatekeepers will now have to take responsibility."
The DMA specifies digital services that are regarded as "gatekeepers," establishing regulations, duties, and penalties for corporations that violate the law.
To be subject to DMA, corporations have to provide "core platform services," such as search engines, social networks, messengers, and social media.
Additionally, they must have a market capitalization of $82.6 billion and at least 45 million monthly end-users in the EU with 10,000 business users annually.
Noncompliance will result in fines of up to 10% of worldwide revenue, with repeat offenses subject to a 20% penalty. The Commission may also prohibit "gatekeeper" firms from purchasing others for a set period of time.
The US is developing its own tech antitrust legislation in Congress and is involved in current cases against Big Tech. Despite US concerns that European proposals discriminate against US firms, Europe is moving further without fearing hurting US-EU cooperation on internet policy.
Guido Lobrano, senior vice president and director-general for Europe for the Information Technology and Industry Council representing tech companies told Axios that the debate has been "very, very difficult."
A Google spokesperson said that while many of the ambitions of the DMA are supported, "we remain concerned that some of the rules could reduce innovation and the choice available to Europeans."
A number of US corporations, including Mozilla and Microsoft, as well as medium-sized companies like Yelp and Genius, support the DMA.
Owen Bennett, senior public policy manager at Mozilla, told Axios "We quite like the idea that the DMA is going to give consumers and businesses more freedom to deploy the software of their choice, use more alternatives, and not be locked into the Big Tech silos."