Europe seeks to rewrite the rules of the Internet

The Digital Markets Act (DMA), which came into force on November 1, promises big changes in Europe for the Internet. The regulation will force Big Tech platforms to open their “walls” by 2023, according to the European Union’s (EU) new ambassador to Silicon Valley. Companies such as Google, Amazon or Meta should bring forward platforms that are more open and interoperable by next year. This situation would bring major changes in everything people can do with their devices and applications. This is yet another reminder of how Europe carries out more regulation towards technology companies compared to the United States.

Gerard de Graaf, an EU official, said, “We expect the consequences to be significant”. De Graaf had already helped in the approval, earlier this year, of the WFD. Since last month, he has been the director of a new EU office in San Francisco. It was established in an attempt to explain the consequences of the law to large technology companies. For this official, the time has come for them to open their “walled gardens” to the whole of society and the users of their platforms.

Europe tightens web controls

During the details provided by de Graaf he commented that:

“If you have an iPhone, you should be able to download apps not only from the App Store, but also from other app stores or the Internet.”

The DMA requires dominant platforms that enable the entry of smaller competitors. It is also expected to “force” WhatsApp, owned by Meta, to be able to receive messages from competing apps such as Telegram or Signal. Another point would be to prevent companies such as Google, Apple or Amazon from giving preferences to their own applications or services.

Although the regulations are beginning to take effect, technology platforms do not have to enforce compliance immediately. The EU has yet to decide which companies are large and well-established enough to fall into the “gatekeeper” classification. The latter are the ones that will have, according to the regulations, the strictest rules. De Graaf expects a dozen companies to be part of this group. Once the technology firms have been decided, they will have six months to comply with the rules.

Legal issues to be evaluated

The new EU official on U.S. soil predicted a wave of lawsuits to come. This situation will end up challenging the new European rules for large technology companies. In any case, for de Graff, his presence in Silicon Valley is to help companies in this transition. The EU has been known to impose large fines on firms such as Google or Apple, along with others, through antitrust investigations, a mechanism that puts the burden of proof on bureaucrats.

Technology companies will soon also have to deal with a second EU law, the Digital Services Act. It will assess the risks of some algorithms and disclosures about automated decision making. This law will also be implemented in stages. It is expected that, by 2024, online platforms will have to comply with the new regulations. The EU is also considering adopting specific rules for artificial intelligence.