You may have heard until now that the European Union is preparing to have a say in how big tech companies like Apple, Google and Meta operate. We are talking about a piece of legislation called the DMA (Digital Markets Act) which the European Commission has been rigorously preparing for some time now. utilities, The Verge reports: that changes could come as early as the spring of 2023.
Spring 2023 may be the time when we see EU vs Big Tech
The European Commission’s Executive Vice President, Margrethe Vestager, has her eyes set on controlling (or at the very least, fining if uncontrollable) tech giants like Apple, Google, Amazon, Meta and others with the DMA. She previously expected the battle to start in October, but it looks like we’ll see more action in the spring of next year. The waiting game depends on when the DMA is implemented. The legislation is currently awaiting approval from the Council and Parliament.
However, the EU is gearing up to enforce the new laws. The legislation targets the so-called gatekeeper companies, which if you’ve paid attention to this article thus far, you might assume it refers to the big tech companies we mentioned earlier.
And you would be right. If you’re curious, here’s the definition of what companies are considered gatekeepers: The company must have a market capitalization (a fancy way of saying the total value of its stock) of more than $75 billion ($82 billion) and a social platform or app with a minimum of 45 million monthly users.
These companies can be fined up to 10 percent of their total worldwide turnover (over the previous year) if they do not comply with the legislation. For the repeat offenders, the fine could be up to 20 percent, which could help the EU make its point home.
Large tech companies thus have three months to declare their status to the Commission, and then they have to wait up to two months for confirmation from the EU. Indeed, it looks like it could take quite some time for the mammoth mechanics to kick in (you can’t expect tech giants and government commissions to wage a fierce Marvel-esque battle so fast it’s hard to watch).
And as you might imagine, the EU has a lot more work to do. Hiring heroes (we mean staff), preparing hundreds of monitors and computers to analyze data (and possibly the 007 coffee for the employees who work there)… execute legislation. Vestager also mentions that they have to draft a legal text on various procedures.
However, when the DMA passes, it may mark the end of an era. In case you haven’t heard of it, here’s the law that could force Apple to allow users to download apps from outside the App Store (a capability that drives Tim Cook crazy and worries about iPhone security), as well as demands WhatsApp and iMessage are becoming interoperable with smaller chat apps.
Sideloading (the process of downloading apps onto the iPhone from outside the App Store) is arguably the biggest change that will force the DMA on Apple. Apple previously worried that this would weaken the iPhone’s security. Incidentally, Android users have been able to sideload apps for quite some time now.
On the other hand, an even bigger headache for Apple is that the DMA would allow Cupertino customers in the App Store to make in-app payments through alternative payment platforms (you may have heard of the infamous Apple Tax, 30% discount, which Apple takes from developers when payments are made through the App Store).
With all this said, it will be quite interesting to see the DMA in action and what changes major tech giants will have to make (and whether they will comply).