EU digital markets law gives big tech a hammer blow

Everyone thinks it’s okay to make a call without knowing which provider the other person is using, says MEP Paul Tang. “It should be a common exchange. It’s not just because Threema or Signal don’t want it, it’s also user convenience.

Some MPs, including Tang, expressed disappointment at a compromise that weakens the idea of ​​interoperability, rather than applying it to more services. “Social media interoperability is pushed into the distant future,” German MEP Martin Schirdewan, co-chair of the Left group in the European Parliament, told WIRED via email. He also described it as an “outrage” that users will have to wait three years before group chats can include members from different apps.

The Digital Markets Act is half of the twin tech legislation that MPs promise to reshape Europe’s relationship with US tech giants. While its counterpart, the Digital Services Act, focuses on illegal content, the DMA is Europe’s answer to complaints that have ricocheted across the continent for years. Spotify from Sweden said Apple’s App Store fees give Apple Music an “unfair advantage”. Swiss email provider ProtonMail said Google and Apple use default settings to favor their own messaging apps on Android and iPhone. And German cloud provider NextCloud has brand Microsoft’s way of bundling its OneDrive cloud storage service with the company’s other products is anti-competitive.

Yet European tech companies were reluctant to celebrate the new rules. The EU could have gone further, says Andy Yen, founder of ProtonMail, who argued for “choice screensor a list of email providers that users can choose from when setting up a new device. “Based on what’s been made public so far, it looks like choice screens will only be implemented for a very limited range of services, but we’ll have to wait for the final text to be sure,” he said.

“We think [the DMA] is not strong enough to stop the anti-competitive behavior of tech giants,” says Frank Karlitschek, CEO and Founder of Nextcloud. “Furthermore, the effects of DMA will be implementation dependent, and it will take time to show true results.” Rich Stables, CEO of French price comparison service Kelkoo Group, would only describe DMA as “potentially transformative”.

Tang says companies shouldn’t judge DMA by the laws that preceded it. The legislation will be enforced by the Commission, unlike the GDPR, which was enforced by Member States. “It’s a major change,” says Tang. He adds that while companies don’t see specific answers to their problems in legislation, the DMA includes tools to address a wide range of issues. “We also have Article 10, which allows the Commission to impose new obligations on guardians,” he says.

However, the skeptical mood was echoed by tech giants, who fought back against the legislation. Lobbyists working on behalf of Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft have held 48 meetings with European Parliament and European Commission officials since December 2019, Brussels-based Transparency International EU told WIRED, although the band said it was just a game. image, because not all MEPs publish lobbying meetings.