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Digital Markets ‘gatekeeper law’ steps forward

November 23, 2021

The EU’s proposed Digital Markets Act has moved nearer the statute books with the nod from the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee. The full parliament should approve the text in December, then there will be negotiations to start with the EU Council on a final version.

The DMA targets so-called ‘gatekeepers’ – platforms that serve millions of consumers and businesses with online services. Under the text approved by the Internal Market committee, to qualify as a gatekeeper, companies would need to provide a core platform service in at least three EU countries and have at least 45 million monthly end-users, as well as more than 10,000 business users. Even below these thresholds, the Commission could name companies as gatekeepers if they meet certain conditions.

These Gatekeepers will be subject to increased regulatory scrutiny and be expected to refrain from imposing unfair conditions on businesses and consumers. In addition to the limits on commercial practices proposed by the Commission, MEPs want the big internet platforms to reduce the use of targeted advertising and profiling. If the proposal is approved, targeted advertising based on personal data would require an explicit opt-in by the person, in line with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, and such targeting would be forbidden entirely for minors.

Gatekeepers breaching restrictions could face sanctions from the European Commission, including fines of at least four percent and up to 20 per cent of annual turnover, under the text approved by MEPs. Gatekeepers that repeatedly violate or do not implement the rules could also face structural or behavioural remedies. This may include a requirement for gatekeepers to inform the Commission of all planned acquisitions, regardless of size.

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