New EU rules could ‘force’ WhatsApp, iMessage, and Messenger to become interoperable
The legislation is expected to be passed sometime in the second half of the year.
What you need to know
- EU lawmakers have agreed on new rules that aim to limit the market power of leading online platforms.
- The Digital Markets Act (DMA) will bar certain practices that large platforms use and enable the European Commission to “carry out market investigations and sanction non-compliant behavior.”
- EU lawmakers have also agreed that messaging services like WhatsApp, Messenger, and iMessage will have to “open up” and interoperate with smaller messaging platforms.
With an aim to limit the power of Big Tech and ensure more choice for users, EU lawmakers on March 24 provisionally agreed to the Digital Markets Act (DMA). The new act will blacklist certain practices used by large platforms to stifle competition and lock in users.
It mainly targets large companies that provide core platform services and act as ”gatekeepers.” According to the EU, a company must provide services such as browsers, messengers, or social media and have at least 45 million monthly end users in the old continent to be designated as a “gatekeeper.”
During the three-way talks between Parliament, Council, and Commission, lawmakers also agreed that large messaging services such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and iMessage will need to “open up” and become interoperable with smaller messaging platforms “if they so request.”
This would mean that users will be able to exchange messages and make video calls across all the best messaging apps. Co-legislators also agreed to assess similar interoperability provisions for social networks.
Additionally, the Parliament agreed to ensure that gatekeepers aren’t allowed to collect personal data for targeted advertising without explicit consent from users. Gatekeepers will also have to ensure that users in Europe are allowed to freely choose their browser, virtual assistants, and search engines.
If a gatekeeper is found to violate the rules, the European Commission will have the power to impose “fines up to 10% of its total worldwide turnover in the preceding financial year, and 20% in case of repeated infringements” They may also be banned from acquiring other companies in case of systematic infringements, although only for a certain time.
European Commission executive vice president Margrethe Vestager said during a press conference on Friday that the Digital Markets Act (DMA) could come into force “sometime in October.”
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