On Wednesday, the European Commission made an important announcement about six major tech companies, calling them “gatekeepers” under a new law called the Digital Markets Act. This law has the potential to significantly change how these big digital companies operate. The “gatekeepers” in question are Amazon, Google (Alphabet parent company), Apple, Microsoft, Meta (formerly Facebook), and ByteDance (the company behind TikTok).
They have six months to make sure their core services follow the rules outlined in the Digital Markets Act. The term “gatekeepers” refers to these giant internet platforms that the EU believes are controlling access to essential services like online search, advertising, and messaging.
European, is also starting five new investigations into Microsoft and Apple, two well-known U.S. tech giants. They want to find out if certain services offered by these companies should also be considered “gatekeepers.”
As part of these investigations, the EU will carefully look at information and submissions from Microsoft and Apple. The EU thinks that Microsoft’s Bing, Edge, and Microsoft Advertising platforms, as well as Apple’s iMessage service, meet the criteria to be labeled as gatekeepers, but Microsoft and Apple disagree.
Furthermore, the EU is inspecting whether Apple’s iPadOS, the operating system used in iPads, should be classified as a gatekeeper, even though the European Commission says it doesn’t meet the necessary requirements.
EU Digital Markets Act
The Digital Markets Act is a significant law in the EU designed to stop major tech companies from engaging in unfair competition. Smaller internet companies and other businesses have complained about the harm caused by the business practices of these big companies.
For example, Google and Apple, whose mobile operating systems are widely used globally, charge a 30% fee for in-app purchases. Companies like Spotify and Epic Games argue that this fee is too high.
Apple is worried about how the Digital Markets Act could affect the privacy and data security of its users. They are concerned that it might weaken the security of their iMessage platform. The EU wants Apple to make it easier for iMessage to work with other messaging apps like WhatsApp.
An Apple spokesperson said in an email on Wednesday that they are committed to addressing these challenges and ensuring that they can continue to provide excellent products and services to their European customers.
It’s also important to note that the EU has designated the Chinese company ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, as a gatekeeper as well. TikTok has faced increased scrutiny worldwide due to concerns about its growing popularity and the potential for it to spread false information to a young audience.
EU lawmakers are worried about the possibility of Chinese influence over TikTok, including concerns that Beijing could use the app to spy on its users.
The EU’s Digital Markets Act labels major tech firms like Amazon, Apple, Google, and TikTok as “gatekeepers” to enhance competition. Microsoft and Apple are under investigation for potential gatekeeper status. Concerns focus on fairness, data privacy, and Chinese tech influence via TikTok. The EU strives for a balanced digital landscape.