Europe’s Digital Markets Act Takes a Hammer to Big Tech

    “We think [the DMA] is not strong enough to stop the anticompetitive behavior of the tech giants,” says Frank Karlitschek, CEO and founder of Nextcloud. “Moreover, the DMA’s effects will depend on the implementation, and it will take time to show the real results.” Rich Stables, CEO of French price comparison service Kelkoo Group, would only describe the DMA as “potentially transformative.”

    Tang says companies shouldn’t judge the DMA by the laws that preceded it. The legislation will be enforced by The Commission, unlike the GDPR, which was enforced by member states. “That’s a major change,” says Tang. He adds that even if companies don’t see specific answers to their problems in the legislation, the DMA includes tools to address a wide range of problems. “We also have Article 10, which allows the Commission to bring forward new obligations on the gatekeepers,” he says.

    However, the skeptical mood was echoed by the tech giants, which fought against the legislation. Lobbyists working on behalf of Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft have held 48 meetings with officials in the European Parliament and European Commission since December 2019, Brussels-based Transparency International EU told WIRED, although the group said this is only a partial picture, as not all MEPS publish lobby meetings.

    An Apple spokesperson said the company was “concerned that some provisions of the DMA will create unnecessary privacy and security vulnerabilities for our users, while others will prohibit us from charging for intellectual property in which we invest a great deal.” Google said it supported many of the DMA’s ambitions around consumer choice and interoperability but that the company was “concerned that some of the rules could reduce innovation and the choice available to Europeans.”

    Amazon said it was reviewing what the DMA means for the company. Meta and travel company, one of the few European tech giants expected to be affected by the legislation, both declined to comment. Casper Klynge, Microsoft’s vice president for European government affairs, said the company was “supportive” of the DMA.

    And there are signs the legislation is already working, even before it is enforced. On Wednesday, the day before European lawmakers met for final negotiations, Google signaled its willingness to comply with new rules by allowing Spotify to test its own payment system in its Android app.

    “I think the DMA has already shown that it is effective, even before it was agreed yesterday,” says Schwab.

    Updated 5/9/22 07:30 EST: This piece has been updated to correct that messaging service Threema is Swiss, not German, and charges ordinary customers a one-off fee.

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