EU Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act explained
Parliament adopted two major pieces of legislation that will change the digital landscape: find out about the Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act.
The landmark digital rules, adopted on 5 July 2022, will create a safer, fairer and more transparent online environment.
The power of digital platforms
Over the last two decades, digital platforms have become an integral part of our lives - it’s hard to imagine doing anything online without Amazon, Google or Facebook.
While the benefits of this transformation are evident, the dominant position gained by some of these platforms gives them significant advantages over competitors, but also undue influence over democracy, fundamental rights, societies and the economy. They often determine future innovations or consumer choice and serve as so-called gatekeepers between businesses and internet users.
To address this imbalance, the EU is upgrading the current rules governing digital services by introducing the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA), which will create a single set of rules applicable across the EU.
Regulating big tech practices: Digital Markets Act
The purpose of the Digital Markets Act is to ensure a level playing field for all digital companies, regardless of their size. The regulation will lay down clear rules for big platforms - a list of “dos” and “don’ts” - which aim to stop them from imposing unfair conditions on businesses and consumers. Such practices include ranking services and products offered by the gatekeeper itself higher than similar services or products offered by third parties on the gatekeeper's platform or not giving users the possibility of uninstalling any preinstalled software or app.
Interoperability between messaging platforms will improve - users of small or big platforms will be able to exchange messages, send files or make video calls across messaging apps.
The rules should boost innovation, growth and competitiveness and will help smaller companies and start-ups compete with very large players.
The purpose of the digital single market is that Europe gets the best companies and not just the biggest. This is why we need to focus on the legislation’s implementation. We need proper supervision to make sure that the regulatory dialogue works.
The Digital Markets Act will also set out the criteria for identifying large online platforms as gatekeepers and will give the European Commission the power to carry out market investigations, allowing for updating the obligations for gatekeepers when necessary and sanctioning bad behaviour.
Safer digital space: Digital Services Act
The Digital Services Act will give people more control over what they see online: users will have better information over why specific content is recommended to them and will be able to choose an option that does not include profiling. Targeted advertising will be banned for minors and the use of sensitive data, such as sexual orientation, religion or ethnicity, won’t be allowed.
The new rules will also help protect users from harmful and illegal content. They will significantly improve the removal of illegal content, making sure it is done as fast as possible. It will also help tackle harmful content, which, like political or health-related disinformation, doesn’t have to be illegal, and introduce better rules for the protection of freedom of speech.
The Digital Services Act will also contain rules making sure that products sold online are safe and follow the highest standards set in the EU. Users will have better knowledge of the real sellers of products that they buy online.
For too long tech giants have benefited from an absence of rules. The digital world has developed into a Wild West, with the biggest and strongest setting the rules. But there is a new sheriff in town - the DSA. Now rules and rights will be strengthened.
The Digital Services Act came into force on 16 November 2022 and will be directly applicable across the EU by 17 February 2024. However, very large platforms and very large online search engines will have to comply with their obligations under the Digital Services Act earlier - maximum four months after the European Commission designated them. The Commission designated the first set of very large platforms on 25 April 2023.
The Digital Markets Act entered into force on 1 November 2022 and its rules started to apply on 2 May 2023. The European Commission will designate gatekeepers by 6 September 2023 at the latest and they will then have a maximum of six months to comply with the new obligations under the Digital Markets Act, so by March 2024.