March 28, 2022

CHANGE: EU announces Big Tech crackdown, demands interoperability between platforms.

Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook owner Meta, and Microsoft would apparently have to comply with the new rules. “The Digital Markets Act puts an end to the ever-increasing dominance of Big Tech companies. From now on, they must show that they also allow for fair competition on the Internet,” said Andreas Schwab, a member of the European Parliament from Germany and rapporteur for Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee.

EU lawmakers agreed that big messaging services such as Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, and Apple’s iMessage “will have to open up and interoperate with smaller messaging platforms, if they so request. Users of small or big platforms would then be able to exchange messages, send files, or make video calls across messaging apps, thus giving them more choice,” the European Parliament’s announcement said. The wording makes it unclear whether the biggest messaging apps would have to work with each other or just with smaller competitors.

Legislators agreed that specific interoperability requirements for social networks “will be assessed in the future.” Another provision says that “combining personal data for targeted advertising will only be allowed with explicit consent to the gatekeeper.”

“If a gatekeeper does not comply with the rules, the [European] Commission can impose fines of up to 10 percent of its total worldwide turnover in the preceding financial year, and 20 percent in case of repeated infringements. In case of systematic infringements, the Commission may ban them from acquiring other companies for a certain time,” the announcement said.

I’m more than a little wary of a few of the provisions, and generally of lawmakers mucking around with technology, but there’s no mistaking the EU’s seriousness.

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