Signaling greater antitrust scrutiny in Europe, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, ByteDance (TikTok), Meta (Facebook), and Microsoft have earned designations as “gatekeepers” by the European Commission as the term is defined by the Digital Markets Act (DMA).
Under the act, the EC Directorate-General for Competition can ascribe gatekeeper status to digital platforms if their core services provide important online conduits between businesses and consumers.
The designation brings with it new responsibilities by the companies to ensure they are in full compliance with the DMA’s obligations for each of their designated core platform services.
- Allow third-party interoperability (in certain situations).
- Allow business users access to data they generate on a gateway platform.
- Provide platform advertisers the ability to verify their ads hosted by a gatekeeper.
- Allow business users to promote their offerings and execute contracts with customers outside a gatekeeping platform.
Gatekeepers may not:
- Rank their own services more favorably than third-party services.
- Prevent consumers from linking to businesses outside their platforms.
- Prevent users from uninstalling any pre-installed software or app.
- Track end users outside the gatekeepers’ core platform service for the purpose of targeted advertising without consent.
The Commission has opened four parallel market investigations to assess Microsoft’s and Apple’s arguments that certain of their core platform services do not qualify as gateways. Microsoft says Bing, Edge, and Microsoft Advertising, are not gateways. Apple says the same about iMessage.