Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Google, Meta and Microsoft. These six major American and Chinese tech groups were officially designated on Wednesday by the European Commission as "gatekeepers" on the digital market. Their weight on very popular online services such as social networks, search engines, e-commerce or web browsers deprive their competitors of oxygen through practices that strengthen their dominant positions.
The Digital Market Act regulation, adopted in July 2022, aims to correct this situation by subjecting “gatekeepers” to a series of obligations and prohibitions. The six designated companies have until March 6, 2024 to comply. They risk fines of up to 10% of their annual turnover, and 20% in the event of repeated violations.
Gatekeepers must be used by at least 45 million Europeans, have more than 10,000 professional customers, have generated at least 7.5 billion euros in revenue in Europe over the last three years or be valued at more than 75 billion euros on the stock market.
The European Commission more precisely targeted online services operated by these six major groups. Here are the details:
The six gatekeepers are now subject to an obligation: that of communicating to the Commission all of their acquisition projects. This imposed transparency should allow European antitrust to intervene as quickly as possible in the event of a problematic takeover, for example those aimed at eliminating an emerging competitor.
The obligations applying from March 6 are much broader. Let's take smartphones running iOS (iPhone) or Android. On these phones, the consumer must, for example, be able to delete pre-installed applications, choose their search engine, have access to several application stores, use payment systems other than Apple Pay or Google Pay, etc.
Meta, for its part, will have to ask its European users for permission to combine data from its Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp applications. Same obligation for Google and its Search, Maps, Shopping etc. services.
As for Amazon, for example, it will no longer have the right to use data from its marketplace to design and sell its own products.
Google says it "will continue to work closely with the European Commission to comply with the law." TikTok says it "fundamentally disagrees" with the European Commission's choice to include it in the list of tech giants affected by this new regulation.
Apple said it was “very concerned” about these new rules, saying they pose problems for privacy and data security. "We will focus on how to mitigate these impacts and continue to provide the best products and services to our European customers."
“As in the past, Apple will likely attempt to circumvent its obligations,” says Spotify, which has been in dispute with the brand for many years. "Apple will have to end its blatant anti-competitive practices in the EU, stop forcing developers to pay unfair and discriminatory fees in the App Store (...) EU developers are counting on the Commission to make apply DMA effectively.”
The list of gatekeepers may increase in the future. The Commission is investigating whether Apple's iMessage messaging service should be subject to the Digital Market Act, just like Microsoft's services Bing, Edge and Microsoft Advertising. She will submit her conclusions by early January. Another investigation, which will last until July 2024, concerns the iPad operating system.
Brussels has also deemed certain arguments from Google, Microsoft and Samsung admissible. For a time, the Gmail and Outlook email clients as well as the Samsung browser will not be subject to the text.