Six tech giants urged to comply with EU’s Digital Markets Act



The European Commission (EC) announced on Sept 6 the first batch of six giant tech companies, including Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, that will be subject to the strict rules under its Digital Markets Act, the Beijing-based Economic Information Daily reported, citing international news reports.

The EC has designated six enterprises, namely Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Meta (Facebook’s parent company) and ByteDance, as “gatekeepers”, requiring them to obey the strictest rules of the Digital Markets Act, which covers 22 core platform services provided by the enterprises, including Google’s Chrome, Microsoft’s Windows, and Apple’s App store. 

According to previous announcement of the European Parliament, “gatekeepers” refer to those large enterprises that provide core platform services such as social network and search engine. They should have a market value of at least 75 billion euros or an annual turnover of at least 7.5 billion euros. They should also have at least 45 million monthly active end users in the EU and 10,000 yearly active business users.

The act will restrict certain behaviors of “gatekeepers”, enabling the EC to conduct market investigations on them and impose remedies on their illegal acts.

The act has clear rules for the obligations that “gatekeepers” must obey. For example, they should ensure interoperability for third-party providers of messaging services. They could use personal data for personalized advertisements only when they have explicit consent from users. And they should allow users to choose web browsers, virtual assistants or search engines at their own will.

The six enterprises have six months to adjust their services and operation to comply with the new rules. After that, violations could result in fines of up to 10 percent of their annual global turnover.

According to analysis of the Associated Press, the six tech companies now face fresh pressure from the EU, which moved to counter their digital dominance with far-reaching rules aimed at giving users more choices and making competition fairer.

There were mixed reactions to the new rules. According to Reuters, Microsoft said it accepted its gatekeeper designation, while Meta, Google and Amazon spokespersons said they were reviewing the designations. Apple said it remained very concerned about privacy and data security risks brought about by the act. ByteDance stated it was disappointed that no market investigation was conducted prior to this decision, adding that it was considering its next steps.

EU’s Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act are the first major legislation on digital regulation for the past two decades. The Digital Services Act, which took effect on Aug 25, is applicable to 19 large platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Amazon, Google Map and Wikipedia.