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EU agree to curb Big Tech

by on25 March 2022

Landmark laws 

Negotiators from the European Parliament and EU member states have agreed on a landmark law to curb the market dominance of United States tech giants such as Google, Meta, Amazon and Apple.

The “Digital Markets Act” (DMA) has sped through the bloc’s legislative procedures and is designed to protect consumers and give rivals a better chance to survive against the world’s powerful tech juggernauts and their well funded legal teams.

German MEP Andreas Schwab, who led the negotiations for the European Parliament said that the Digital Markets Act puts an end to the ever-increasing dominance of Big Tech companies.  

Well other than the UK where they have Boris Johnston and the quasi-religious powers of Brexit to protect them 

The main point of the law is to avert the years of procedures and court battles needed to punish Big Tech’s monopolistic behaviour where cases can end with huge fines which they pay and then refuse to change the way they do business. An examnple is in Holland were Apple has been charged five million euros a week to change its app store rules and just paid up. 

Once implemented, the law will give Brussels unprecedented authority to keep an eye on decisions by the giants, especially when they try to buy up promising startups.

EU’s competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the law  gives everyone a fair chance. 

The law contains about 20 rules that in many cases target practices by Big Tech that have gone against the bloc’s rules on competition, but which Brussels has struggled to enforce.

The DMA imposes myriad obligations on Big Tech, including forcing Apple to open up its App Store to alternative payment systems, a demand that the iPhone maker has opposed fiercely, most notably in its feud with Epic games, the maker of Fortnite.

Google will be asked to clearly offer users of Android-run smartphones alternatives to its search engine, the Google Maps app or its Chrome browser.

A Google spokesperson told the AFP news agency that the US internet giant will “take time to study the final text and work with regulators to implement it. While we support many of the DMA’s ambitions around consumer choice and interoperability, we remain concerned that some of the rules could reduce innovation and the choice available to Europeans.” 

Apple would also be forced to loosen its grip on the iPhone, with users allowed to uninstall its Safari web browser and other company-imposed apps that users cannot currently delete.

In a statement, Apple swiftly expressed regret over the law, saying it was “concerned that some provisions of the DMA will create unnecessary privacy and security vulnerabilities for our users.

After a furious campaign by influential MEPs, the law also forces messaging services such as Meta-owned WhatsApp to make themselves available to users on other services such as Signal or Apple’s iMessage, and vice-versa.

France, which holds the EU presidency and negotiated on behalf of the bloc’s 27 member states, said the law would deliver “concrete impacts on the lives of European citizens”.

Violation of the rules could lead to fines as high as 10 percent of a company’s annual global sales and even 20 percent for repeat offenders.


Last modified on 25 March 2022
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