London: The European Commission on Wednesday designated, for the first time, six gatekeepers — Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta and Microsoft — under the Digital Markets Act (DMA) with provisions for hefty penalties for non-compliance.
In total, 22 core platform services provided by gatekeepers have been designated in the EU.
The six gatekeepers will now have six months to ensure full compliance with the DMA obligations for each of their designated core platform services, the commission said in a statement.
In case a gatekeeper does not comply with the obligations laid down by the DMA, the Commission can impose fines up to 10 per cent of the company’s total worldwide turnover, which can go up to 20 per cent in case of repeated infringement.
“With today’s designation we are finally reining in the economic power of 6 gatekeepers, giving more choice to consumers and creating new opportunities for smaller innovative tech companies, thanks for instance to interoperability, sideloading, real-time data portability and fairness,” said Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market.
In parallel, the Commission has also opened four market investigations to further assess Microsoft’s and Apple’s submissions arguing that, despite meeting the thresholds, some of their core platform services do not qualify as gateways, like Microsoft: Bing, Edge and Microsoft Advertising and Apple’s iMessage.
“Under the DMA, these investigations aim to ascertain whether a sufficiently substantiated rebuttal presented by the companies demonstrates that services in question should not be designated. The investigation should be completed within a maximum of 5 months,” said the Commission.
In addition, the Commission opened a market investigation to further assess whether Apple’s iPadOS should be designated as a gatekeeper, despite not meeting the thresholds. Under the DMA, this investigation should be completed within a maximum of 12 months.
Moreover, the Commission found that, although Gmail, Outlook.com and Samsung Internet Browser meet the thresholds under the DMA to qualify as a gatekeeper, Alphabet, Microsoft and Samsung provided sufficiently justified arguments showing that these services do not qualify as gateways for the respective core platform services.
“Therefore, the Commission decided not to designate Gmail, Outlook.com and Samsung Internet Browser as core platform services. It follows that Samsung is not designated as a gatekeeper with respect to any core platform service,” it said.
The Commission said it will monitor the effective implementation of and compliance with these obligations.
In case of systematic infringements, the Commission is also empowered to adopt additional remedies such as obliging a gatekeeper to sell a business or parts of it or banning the gatekeeper from acquisitions of additional services related to systemic non-compliance.