Tech giant ‘gatekeepers’ must comply with all of the EU’s new digital market rules

Seven companies, mostly made up of American tech giants, have notified the European Commission that they meet the criteria to be classified as “gatekeepers” under the Digital Markets Act (DMA). Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, TikTok owner ByteDance, Meta, Microsoft and Samsung have declared that they meet the thresholds the EU set when it passed the new law. According to Reuters, Booking.com also expects to meet gatekeeper status by the end of the year and will notify authorities by then. 

Gatekeepers are companies with an annual turnover in Europe of at least €7.5 billion (US$8.16 billion) in the last three financial years or those with a fair market value of at least €75 billion (US$81.6 billion) in the last financial year in at least three member states of the EU. They must also have served more than 45 million monthly active end users and more than 10,000 yearly active business users in the EU over the last three years. These criteria were designed to include the biggest players in the field, since as the law’s name indicates, it’s meant to cover large online platforms that act as “gatekeepers” in digital markets. 

Under the DMA, gatekeepers will be prohibited from favoring their own services over their rivals’ and from locking users into their ecosystem. They must allow third parties to interoperate with their own services. They must also allow business users to promote their products/services and “conclude contracts with their customers outside the gatekeepers’ platform.” In Google’s and Apple’s case, that means they can’t prevent developers from using a different payment systems other than their own. The companies can’t prohibit users from removing pre-installed apps or from sideloading apps from outside sources, as well. That will mean huge changes for Apple, in particular, whose ecosystem has been designed as a “walled garden” for the longest time. In December last year, Bloomberg reported that Apple was preparing to allow third-party app stores and sideloading with the release of iOS 17. 

All gatekeepers will have to comply with all aspects of the DMA in 2024. For now, European authorities will be reviewing the submissions and will be designating the gatekeepers for specific platform services by September 6th. 

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