The European Parliament gave the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA) the final green light this week, setting out major obligations for Big Tech moving forward.
The two pieces of regulation received an overwhelming majority during a the plenary vote in the European Parliament (EP) this week, marking a strong consensus towards bringing higher digital standards in the bloc.
The tsunami of changes will enforce competition rules and greater accountability on tech giants via the DMA, while the DSA will focus on consumer protection and transparency, imposing governance rules about illegal goods, services and content online. These rules will apply to both big and small firms.
In a statement, the EP said: “The DMA sets obligations for large online platforms acting as ‘gatekeepers’ (platforms whose dominant online position make them hard for consumers to avoid) on the digital market to ensure a fairer business environment and more services for consumers”.
Commenting on the DMA in particular, Counsel at Linklaters William Leslie said that the rules about providing third parties with access to specified elements of gatekeepers’ hardware and software was one of the “most far reaching obligations” pushed forward by Brussels.
Although he said the UK’s proposed powers for its own Digital Markets Unit are intended to be “inherently more flexible” than the European equivalent, Leslie told City A.M. that the UK’s regime was still in gestation, but was likely to impose similar obligations on the largest digital platforms, like Google and Meta.
As it stands, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority have only established the Digital Markets Unit on a non-statutory basis, with some calling for a greater focus to be given to the dedicated unit.
Paul Stone, Senior Counsel at Charles Russell Speechlys, told City A.M. that as a result of this slow action, the EU had “stolen a march on the UK” with the legislative push.
“Although the UK was originally ahead with its own proposals for regulating big tech, delays to the UK’s Digital Markets Bill mean that the UK will now be playing catch up”, he said.
Gilbert Hill, Chief Strategy Officer at Pool, the infrastructure and technology solution fuelling the growth of data unions, was less sympathetic to the EU.
He told City A.M.: “The driver isn’t compliance culture but an urgent need to ensure Europe stays relevant; none of the top 20 global tech companies currently come from the region.
Architects of this vision like Margaret Vestager and Andreas Schwab have adopted some of the language of Web3 projects in their push for “fairness” and “decentralisation”, and the lobbying efforts of Silicon Valley giants have so far proven fruitless and even counterproductive”.