US Big Tech dominates potential gatekeeper list under EU rules

5 Jul 2023

EU commissioner for the internal market Thierry Breton. Image: Claudio Centonze

TikTok and Samsung have joined the usual suspects in Big Tech to form a cohort that will likely need to tweak how they function in Europe.

Seven leading technology companies, including Apple, Google and Meta, have declared to the European Commission that they qualify as ‘gatekeepers’ under the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

According to the DMA, a gatekeeper is a company that has had an annual turnover in Europe of at least €7.5bn in the last three years or market value of at least €75bn in its last financial year and operations in at least three member states.

A company must also have served more than 45m monthly active users and more than 10,000 yearly active business users in the EU during the last three years on several core platform services, such as search engines, social networking services and operating systems.

Internal markets commissioner Thierry Breton revealed the seven companies that meet the thresholds in a statement yesterday (4 July). They are Amazon, Google parent Alphabet, Apple, TikTok parent ByteDance, Meta, Microsoft and Samsung.

The Commission will now check their submissions and designate the gatekeepers for specific platform services by 6 September. Once officially designated, the companies will have to six months to comply with DMA rules. This means they will no longer be able to “lock in” users in their ecosystem.

They will also no longer get to decide which apps are pre-installed on a device or which app stores users must use, a rule that will likely be a big blow to Google and Apple in particular.

Essentially, the companies will not be allowed to favour their own products and services and messaging apps will have to interoperate with others.

If they violate DMA rules, the gatekeeper companies could be fined up to 10pc of annual global turnover, and up to 20pc in cases of repeated infringements.

“Consumers will have more services to choose from, more opportunities to switch providers and will benefit from better prices and higher quality services. Innovative companies will no longer be prevented from reaching new customers. That is what the DMA is all about,” Breton said.

“With the Digital Markets Act, together with the Digital Services Act and the Data Act – and soon with the AI Act, Europe is completely reorganising its digital space to both better protect EU citizens and enhance innovation for EU start-ups and companies.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic