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European Union law on regulating Big Tech likely in spring 2023

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The commission can fine Big Tech entities up to 10% of their total global turnover in the preceding financial year if found violating the rules.

The European Union will begin enforcing the Digital Markets Act in spring 2023, European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said at the International Competition Network conference last week. Vestager had previously said the antitrust legislation that introduces new rules to curb Big Tech’s powers could be implemented as early as October this year.

“The DMA (Digital Markets Act) will enter into force next spring and we are getting ready for enforcement as soon as the first notifications come in,” TechCrunch quoted Vestager as saying at the conference.

Vestager also suggested that the commission would be prepared to act against violations by “gatekeepers” — a classification including Meta Platforms, Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft — as and when the laws come into force. The act still needs approval from the European Council and the European Parliament.

The Digital Markets Act defines gatekeepers as companies with a market capitalisation of over $82 billion and own a social media platform or app with at least 45 million monthly users. The commission can fine these entities up to 10% of their total global turnover in the preceding financial year if found violating the rules. The fine will go up to 20% in case of repeat offenders.

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Gatekeepers will be given three months to declare their status to the commission, followed by a two-month wait to receive confirmation from the European Union.

“This next chapter is exciting. It means a lot of concrete preparations,” Vestager said.

“It’s about setting up new structures within the Commission… It’s about hiring staff. It’s about preparing the IT systems. It’s about drafting further legal texts on procedures or notification forms. Our teams are currently busy with all these preparations and we’re aiming to come forward with the new structures very soon.”

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When ratified, the act is likely to disrupt the business models used by Big Tech. It could require Apple to allow users to download apps from outside the App Store, an idea vehemently opposed by CEO Tim Cook, who argued that such sideloading could “destroy” the iPhone’s security. It could also make WhatsApp and iMessage interoperable with smaller platforms, a policy that could make it difficult for WhatsApp to maintain end-to-end encryption.

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