EU Approves Landmark Legislation to Regulate Apple and Other Big Tech Firms

European Union Citizens Won't Face Mobile Roaming Fees Until At Least 2032

European Union lawmakers have approved landmark legislation to heavily regulate Apple, Google, Meta, and other big tech firms.

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) and Digital Services Act (DSA) were proposed by the European Commission in December 2020. Now, collected in a “Digital Services Package,” the legislation has been adopted by the European Parliament.

The DMA will require “gatekeeper” companies like Apple to share metrics with competitors, ensure that all apps are uninstallable, not preference their own apps and services, allow users to utilize third-party app stores, payment systems, and app sideloading, not require developers to use a particular browser engine, allow users to change the default virtual assistant to a third-party option, give developers access to any existing hardware feature, such as near-field communication technology and secure elements, and make messaging, voice-calling, and video-calling platforms interoperable with other services. The Digital Services Act (DSA), which requires platforms to do more to police the internet for illegal content, has also been approved.

The DMA says that gatekeepers who ignore the rules will face fines of up to 10 percent of the company’s total worldwide annual turnover, or 20 percent in the event of repeated infringements, as well as periodic penalties of up to 5 percent of the company’s total worldwide annual turnover. Where gatekeepers perpetrate “systematic infringements,” the European Commission will be able to impose additional sanctions, such as obliging a gatekeeper to sell a business or parts of it, including units, assets, intellectual property rights, or brands, or banning a gatekeeper from acquiring any company that provides services in the digital sector.

So far, Apple has heavily resisted attempts by governments to enforce changes to its operating systems and services. For example, Apple simply chose to pay a $5.5 million fine every week for months in the Netherlands instead of obey orders from the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) to allow third-party payment systems in Dutch dating apps. Experts expect a “brutal battle” between Apple and global regulators around the world in the future.

EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager has set up a DMA taskforce, with about 80 officials expected to join, but some lawmakers have called for an even bigger taskforce to counter the power of big tech companies. The Digital Services Package now simply needs to be adopted by the European Council before coming into force in the fall.

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