Last week the Digital Markets Act (DMA) has taken an important step towards its application with the first agreement reached by European Union lawmakers for its approval. This new regulation aims to defeat some of the most important technology companies in the world, such as Google, Apple, Meta and Amazon, among others, with the introduction of measures that will significantly affect the operation of some of their most important services. . .
But what would be the most significant changes that would come into effect once the Digital Markets Act is finally approved? It is worth mentioning that the scope of the legislation is quite wide and its impact will be seen in the use of mobile app stores, messaging services, search engines and software, to name a few. some examples. Of course, we are talking about direct effects on the user experience; there will also be many other obligations and prohibitions that companies will have to respect, but which will surely not be made public.
It is also important to mention that the law on digital markets will not come into force for a few months. The European Commission’s most optimistic projection points to October as the target, but analysts believe that could only happen after 2023.
Below we review some of the changes more important that users will experience once the legislation is implemented.
Messaging Services Interoperability
By far, it is the novelty that has had the most impact in recent days. It is that the first agreement of the Digital Markets Law envisages the interoperability of messaging services. This means that users will be able to send and receive messages, regardless of the application used by a person or another.
What this would allow, then, is that someone can communicate from WhatsApp with another person who uses Telegram, iMessage, Messenger or Signal, among others, and vice versa. In any case, it will not be something easy to achieve from a technical point of view, nor have the standards to achieve it been established.
The Digital Markets Act will give messaging apps the right to request their connection with users of a competing platform. This has already been the subject of controversy, mainly focused on how it will affect the privacy of each service. Indeed, security specialists have already claimed that the legislation could break the end-to-end encryption offered by WhatsAppwhen it comes to applications that use a different protocol or use none at all.
“Trying to harmonize two different cryptographic architectures is something that simply cannot be done; one side or the other will have to make major changes. A design that only works when both sides are online will be very different from one that works with stored messages. How do you get these two systems to interact?” a researcher recently said. The edge.
Third-party app stores and side loading
This is the other big change that the Digital Markets Law proposes to the way users interact with their mobile on a daily basis. Plus, it’s clearly a liver-boost for Apple. It’s that the new regulations will require dominant operating systems to allow the public to access third-party app storesand that too the is activated side loading to install apps from unknown sources.
This won’t be big news for those who use Android devices. Although Google’s mobile operating system has its own official store —Play Store—, users can install apps from other alternatives, such as f droidor download their installers from platforms like APKMirror to manually install them later.
However, this is not possible on iOS. Apple has always refused to let iPhone and iPad users get apps outside of the App Store, either through other stores or sideloading. Even Tim Cook himself, CEO of the Cupertino company, has spoken out against this possibility; to the point of considering that “it would destroy the privacy and security model” offered by their devices.
And that’s not all, since the Digital Markets Law also provides that the dominant app stores will no longer be able to remove applications that intend to set up alternative means of payment. This could give a new twist to the long legal battle between Apple and Epic Games, the creators of fortnite.
Default search engines and services, also under the microscope of the Digital Markets Act
The Digital Markets Act also addresses issues that in recent years have strained relations between the European Commission and big tech companies. We are of course talking about a increased regulation of search engines and default applications and services.
Thus, Google will not be able to give better visibility to its products and services than those of the competition in its search results. However, the effect of the new regulations is not limited to the Mountain View giant. Under these parameters, Amazon must allow other brands to be better positioned when the public searches for products in its online store, to name just another example.
On the other hand, default services will also come under increased scrutiny with this new law. According to the Digital Markets Act, large tech companies that control a mobile operating system and a web browser will not be able to set the latter as their default application. The clearest cases here are Google with Android and Chrome, and Apple with iOS and Safari.
Thus, what will be sought is that users can choose whether they want to keep the options available or prefer to download alternatives, when first starting a device. Something similar will happen with search engines and other services, something that has already led to antitrust investigations (and millions in fines) in Europe in the past.
Another important point to note is that users they will no longer be able to delete pre-installed apps on their devices. This will be a very positive change as many mobiles and tablets are coming in the throes of bloatware; we’re referring to proprietary apps that the public often doesn’t use but also can’t uninstall. The same happens with services (such as those from Google) which also cannot be permanently deleted.
The Digital Markets Act proposes many changes behind the scenes
As we have already indicated, we have focused on the changes proposed by the Digital Markets Act which will have a visible impact on the products and services most used by the public. However, the legislation will also come with many changes behind the scenes. These are the most important, which we have already covered in hypertextual:
- Big tech companies will need to allow third parties to interact with their own services.
- Small businesses will be able to access the data that companies like Google, Meta or Amazon, among others, collect when they use their platforms.
- Big tech will also need to allow smaller companies to offer their products to customers outside of other platforms. They can also do this by offering different prices and conditions.
- the big tech They will not be able to collect non-public data from small businesses that use digital platforms for use in other services or to compete with them.
- They also won’t be able to prioritize their products or services over similar ones offered by smaller businesses using their platform.
- The Digital Markets Act also prohibits large companies from blocking consumers from contacting companies outside of their platforms.
It is clear that the application of the Digital Markets Law will be the subject of long debates and which promises many controversies. Some of the major technology companies have already expressed their disagreement with certain points of the regulations; they even assure that it could affect the level of investment and innovation.
The truth is that those who break the law will be exposed to severe sanctions by the European Commission. Among other things, a fine of up to 10% of total worldwide turnover for one year, or 5% of average daily turnover.