Digital Markets Act: Companies as gatekeepers and benefits for European consumers

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) is a European law which regulates major online platforms and companies to promote fair competition. The law focuses on so-called gatekeepers who have a significant influence on the internal market and imposes specific obligations on them, such as preventing unfair practices such as favoring their own products or services.

Through this regulation, the European Union wants to create a level playing field for all digital companies. This provides several advantages for the consumer. For that reason, Apple has allowed sideloading of apps and iOS 18 will also support RCS in messages.

Digital Markets Act

The Digital Markets Act (DMA), in Dutch ‘Regulation on Digital Markets’, is a European law aimed at regulating large online platforms, also known as gatekeepers, to ensure fair competition. It sets strict rules to prevent these platforms from abusing their dominant position, for example by giving preference to their own services or by limiting access to users’ data.

The DMA requires gatekeepers to be more transparent and ensures that smaller companies have equal access to digital markets. The European Union aims to promote innovation and freedom of choice for consumers.

What are gatekeepers?

A gatekeeper in the Digital Markets Act is a large digital platform that has a significant influence on the market, such as Google or Facebook. They are so called because they control access to many online services and users. This includes online search engines, app stores, messaging services and more.

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) establishes a set of clearly defined objective criteria to identify gatekeepers. These companies will have to comply with various obligations, as well as prohibitions, listed in the DMA.

setapp mobile highlighted
SetApp Mobile as an alternative app store

Why was the DMA law introduced?

The Digital Markets Act was introduced to promote fair competition. The law ensures that large digital platforms do not abuse their dominant position to sideline smaller competitors. This removes a number of barriers for smaller companies, promoting innovation in the digital market. This limits the market dominance of large tech companies.

In addition, consumers have more freedom of choice, they can enjoy lower prices and better quality of products and services, because a fairer playing field has been created.

Benefits for the consumer

Thanks to the Digital Markets Act, consumers benefit from several benefits:

  1. More freedom of choice: Consumers have access to a broader range of products and services because smaller companies can compete better. A good example of this is alternative app stores and sideloading of apps.
  2. Expansion of services: By law, companies can be required to expand their services, a good example is the support for RCS in messages, which allows you to communicate with all smartphones ‘free’ directly from the standard messaging app.
  3. More privacy and control: Consumers gain more control over their data and how it is used by major platforms. For example, the companies must be transparent and users must be informed about the removal of content by platforms and be able to object to it, for which they have access to dispute resolution in their own country.
  4. Better protection: The DMA has also introduced new measures to protect minors, including a duty of care for all users. Also imposed stricter assessment and risk mitigation obligations for very large online platforms.
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Disadvantages of DMA in the EU

While the Digital Markets Act offers many benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks for consumers. Companies subject to the DMA may incur higher costs to comply with the new rules, potentially leading to higher prices for consumers. The stricter rules on data use may also mean that platforms can offer less personalized services.

In addition, some new features may not be added to a product immediately or at all because they do not comply with the DMA law.

Apple has announced that three new iOS 18, iPadOS 18 and macOS Sequoia features will not be released in the EU this year. It is about this iPhone Mirroring, SharePlay Screen Sharing (remotely control iPhone or iPad) and Apple Intelligence. It is not yet clear how these features could violate the Digital Markets Act, but Apple indicates that this law would weaken the integrity of the products.

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