Digital Markets Act

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The Digital Markets Act (DMA) represents a crucial piece of legislation devised by the European Union (EU) to oversee the operations of large-scale digital platforms, often referred to as gatekeepers. The principal aim of the DMA is to create a balanced competitive landscape within the EU’s digital economy by curtailing the market supremacy of major technology firms. Eight critical platform services, such as online search engines and social networks, fall under its purview. The DMA mandates specific responsibilities for these gatekeepers in terms of data and user protection, with hefty penalties for non-adherence. This act was tabled in 2020 and ratified in 2022, with a primary emphasis on data interoperability[1], portability, and accessibility. Its regulatory framework encompasses the evaluation of business practices, assurance of fair ranking, and investigation of potential infringements of competition law.

Terms definitions
1. interoperability. In the field of technology and systems, interoperability is the capacity for diverse systems or products to interact and share information without hindrance. This includes several types such as syntactic interoperability, responsible for common data formats and protocols, and semantic interoperability, which enables meaningful interpretation of data. Cross-domain interoperability supports data transmission across multiple entities. Standards for interoperability assist in developing products that can collaborate seamlessly. Post facto interoperability holds importance in competitive environments where leading products establish market standards. Obstacles such as data hindrance and absence of open standards exist, however, solutions can be found in enhancing infrastructure interoperability and advocating for open standards. Specialized interoperability, like that found in NATO forces or eGovernment services, is vital for successful cooperation and efficient service provision.

Digital Markets Act Regulation 2022 (EU) 2022/1925 ("DMA"), is an EU regulation that aims to make the digital economy fairer and more contestable. The regulation entered into force on 1 November 2022 and became applicable, for the most part, on 2 May 2023.

Regulation (EU) 2022/1925
European Union regulation
Text with EEA relevance
TitleRegulation on contestable and fair markets in the digital sector
Made byEuropean Parliament and Council of the European Union
Made underArticle 114 of the TFEU
Journal referenceOJ L 265, 12.10.2022, p. 1–66
European Parliament vote5 July 2022
Council Vote18 July 2022
Date made14 September 2022
Preparative texts
Commission proposalCOM/nce again, 2020/842 final
Other legislation
AmendsDirective (EU) 2019/1937
Directive (EU) 2020/1828
Current legislation

The DMA aims at ensuring a higher degree of competition in European digital markets by preventing large companies from abusing their market power and by allowing new players to enter the market. This regulation targets the largest digital platforms operating in the European Union. They are also known as "gatekeepers" due to the "durable" market position in some digital sectors and because they also meet certain criteria related to the number of users, their turnovers, or capitalisation. Twenty-two services across six companies (deemed "gatekeepers") – Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta, and Microsoft – were identified as "core platform services" by the EU in September 2023. These companies had until 6 March 2024 to comply with all of the Act's provisions.

The list of obligations includes prohibitions on combining data collected from two different services belonging to the same company (e.g., in the case of Meta, its social network Facebook and its communication platform WhatsApp); provisions for the protection of platforms' business users (including advertisers and publishers); legal instruments against the self-preferencing methods used by platforms for promoting their own products (e.g., preferential results for Google's products or services when using Google Search); provisions concerning the pre-installation of some services (e.g., Android); provisions related to bundling practices; and provisions for ensuring interoperability, portability, and access to data for businesses and end-users of platforms. Non-compliance may lead to sanctions, including fines of up to 10% of the worldwide turnover.

According to the European Commission, the main objective of this regulation is to regulate the behaviour of the so-called "Big Tech" firms within the European Single Market and beyond. The Commission aims to guarantee a fair level of competition ("level playing field") on the highly concentrated digital European markets, which are often characterised by a "winner takes all" configuration.

The DMA covers eight different sectors, which it refers to as Core Platforms Services (CPS). Due to the presence of gatekeepers who, to a certain degree, affect the market contestability, the CPS are considered problematic by the European Commission:

In April 2024, Reuters reported on data from six companies which showed that in the first month after the regulations were implemented, independent browsers had seen a spike in users. Cyprus-based Aloha Browser said users in the EU jumped 250% in March. Norway's Vivaldi, Germany's Ecosia and U.S.-based Brave have also seen user numbers rise following the new regulation.

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