After several months of negotiations, a compromise was sealed, Thursday, March 24, late in the evening, between the European institutions on the Regulation of digital markets (Digital markets act, DMA) which must impose on Gafam (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) a series of obligations and prohibitions to curb anti-competitive practices.
For the French Secretary of State for Digital, Cédric O, it is “the most important economic regulation of recent decades”. And it could have international repercussions.
” A new era “
“The agreement ushers in a new era of technology regulation around the world. The Digital Markets Act puts an end to the ever-increasing dominance of big tech companies”, said MEP Andreas Schwab (EPP, right), rapporteur for the text. The regulation, which is expected to enter into force in January 2023, marks a change in philosophy in the fight against abuse by large platforms.
→ READ ALSO. Gafam: the prospect of dismantling is receding
After years of chasing in vain after the offenses of these multinationals in endless legal proceedings, Brussels wants to act upstream, by imposing twenty rules on them to respect under penalty of dissuasive fines. Objective: to act quickly and effectively, before abusive behavior has destroyed competition.
The text only targets the largest groups, Gafam and a handful of other companies such as the online booking platform Booking or the social network TikTok. The list remains to be defined according to criteria relating to turnover, market capitalization or the number of users.
→ READ ALSO. Google doubles its profits, Facebook disappoints
There is “will have far-reaching consequences” on the activity of these companies, believes Katrin Schallenberg, of the law firm Clifford Chance. A free choice of software application stores will be introduced, in particular making it possible to circumvent the Apple App Store, which has long been in the sights of the Commission.
The legislation also establishes Commission control over all takeover operations of these giants, regardless of the size of the target. The objective is to limit the monopolization of innovation by start-ups and to avoid takeovers whose sole purpose is to kill a competitor. It lays down around twenty rules to curb the abuses observed in recent years.
→ READ ALSO. Neighboring rights, Google and the French daily press agree
Thus, the major platforms will be prohibited from showing any favoritism towards their own services in search engine results. A practice of which Google is particularly accused with its online sales site Google Shopping. The new law will prevent these giants from using the data generated on their site by client companies to better compete with them, as Amazon has been accused of.
Fines of up to 20% of global sales
The text, which was one of the main priorities of the French Presidency of the Council of the EU, also aims to better protect users by making their consent compulsory for the crossing of data from several online services. It will prevent the imposition of pre-installed software on computers or phones, such as browsers or music applications, and facilitate the use of alternative products.
→ READ ALSO. Despite the action of the lobbies, Europe decided to regulate the digital giants
In the home stretch, the European Parliament has also obtained the addition of the interoperability of messaging services which will allow, for example, a Signal messaging user to communicate with a contact using WhatsApp. Fines of up to 10% of global sales are provided for in the event of an infringement, and even 20% in the event of a repeat offense.