EU could start Enforcing Rules and Regulate Big Tech in Spring 2023 

 May 1, 2022

The antitrust legislation, which familiarizes a new set of rules to curb the power of Big Tech, could be executed as early as October of this year.

The Commission previously expressed the Digital Markets Act would come into power in October. Instead, the European Union aims to begin enforcing the Digital Markets Act (DMA) in spring 2023, Commission executive vice president Margrethe Vestager announced last week at the International Competition Network (ICN) conference.

The DMA will enter into force next spring, and we are getting for enforcement as soon as the first notifications come in,” Vestager said during her lecture at the ICN. In addition, the Commission will be prepared to work against any violations made by “gatekeepers” — a category that includes Meta, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon — as soon as the laws come into force.

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The DMA, which still requires final approval from the Council and Parliament, explains gatekeepers as companies with a market capitalization of throughout €75 billion ($82 billion) and owning a social platform or app with at least 45 million monthly users.

These entities can face fines of “up to 10 percent of its total worldwide turnover in the preceding financial year” if found in violation of the DMA’s rules, a fee that could increase to 20 percent in the case of a repeat offense.

By the DMA, gatekeepers will have three months to declare their status to the Commission, followed by an up to two-month wait period to receive confirmation from the EU. This waiting period, coupled with the delayed DMA enforcement, could mean that we won’t start seeing any real battles between the EU and Big Tech until 2023.

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“This next chapter is exciting. It means a lot of concrete preparations,” they explained. “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 different legal texts on procedures or notification forms. Our teams are busy with all these preparations, and we aim to come forward with the new structures very soon.”

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Pushing back the DMA’s enforcement could give the Commission more time to prepare. Still, as TechCrunch points out, the delay could also catalyze criticism if the Commission fails to address any significant violations between now and when the DMA becomes law.

When passed, the DMA will likely disrupt the business models used by the world’s tech behemoths. For example, it could require Apple to start allowing users to download apps from outside the App Store, an idea that Apple CEO Tim is adamantly against.

He argues that sideloading could “destroy” the security of an iPhone. It could also need WhatsApp and iMessage to become interoperable with smaller platforms, a policy that may make it more challenging for WhatsApp to maintain end-to-end encryption.

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