The European Commission has designated six major technology companies that it says will be subject to stricter rules in the future.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the EU's executive branch said its new measures will target 22 "core platform services" provided by Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google parent company Alphabet, Facebook owner Meta as well as Bytedance, the company behind TikTok.
Why is the EU targeting these companies?
The EU wants to curb the market powers of these six tech firms. They are considered "gatekeepers" as they "provide an important gateway between businesses and consumers," the Commission statement said.
More specific criteria include generating a certain turnover within the EU as well as providing core platform services in three member states and to at least 45 million end users.
Commissioner Thierry Breton, responsible for the EU's digital policy, said it was "time to turn the tables and ensure that no online platform behaves as if it was 'too big to care.'"
Stricter rules on compatibility and data protection
The designated companies will have to comply with the EU's Digital Markets Act (DMA), which aims to ensure greater competition in the EU's digital market. It entered into force in November 2022.
While the DMA includes rules for gatekeepers, the EU has only specified now who these gatekeepers will be.
To comply with the legislation, the companies will have to ensure that their services are compatible with competitors' products, and are obliged to share data with them, among other things. Compiling user data from different sources will only be allowed with explicit user consent.
The companies now have six months to comply with the regulations and will have to produce regular compliance reports.
Commission threatens stiff fines for non-compliance
Should companies not comply with the DMA, the EU Commission announced it "can impose fines up to 10% of the company's total worldwide turnover, which can go up to 20% in case of repeated infringement."
Repeat offenders who systematically flout EU digital laws may be subject to even harsher punishments — including the possibility of a company breakup.
Apple and Microsoft have argued that some of their services, like iMessage and Bing, do not have enough users to be considered gatekeepers. The Commission said it is investigating these claims.
fg/sms (AFP, AP, DPA, DW sources)