European Union Regulates Duopoly Apple And Google As Guardians Of The Platform

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The European Union has passed legislation to limit the powers of big tech “gatekeepers” who can control access to app platforms.

The European Parliament legislation will likely impact owners of Google and Apple mobile gaming platforms, as well as others who operate platforms.

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Richard Hoeg, an attorney at Hoeg Law, said in a tweet: “Apple will attempt legal action until the heat death of the universe.” That’s a big deal because Epic Games largely failed in a lower court ruling in the United States in its case alleging antitrust violations by Apple as owner of the iOS mobile app platform. Epic is appealing the case, in which Apple won most decisions and lost on a relatively small point. Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, tweeted: “Happy 5th of July”. A business coalition backed an Epic.

We’ve asked Google and Apple for comment.

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA) were proposed in 2020, and now the group has passed its “digital services package” legislation.

Companies such as Apple and Google are likely to be classified as “gatekeepers” due to their size and entrenched market positions under DMA rules. It remains to be seen which other potential guardians are affected by the law.

Guardians must adhere to restrictions intended to curb anti-competitive behavior. For example, they must now allow users to install apps from third-party app stores and download them directly from the internet. Epic Games is suing Apple and Google for this right, which is against the platform’s policies.

Gatekeepers will also have to offer third-party payment systems in apps and allow developers to promote offers outside of the gatekeeper’s platforms.

And gatekeepers will have to let developers install their digital apps and services directly with those owned by gatekeepers. This means that they must be able to integrate with services such as messaging, voice calls and video calls. Developers will also have access to hardware features such as near field communication (NFC), security technologies and processors, means of authentication and software to control these technologies.

Benefits for consumers

Developers will likely be able to offer services at lower cost on their own websites, escaping the platform fee of 30% of the purchase price. They could pass this on to the consumer or use the profits to improve their apps for consumers.

The EU has also done some things for the benefit of consumers. Controllers must accept that consumers can uninstall any app and opt out of core platform services. Users have the option to replace a default voice assistant with a third-party option, share data and metrics with developers or competing platforms. This includes marketing and advertising performance data.

Each platform will have to set up an independent compliance group to monitor its compliance with EU law. Gatekeepers will not be permitted to pre-install software applications and require users to use default software such as web browsers. Guardians may not promote their own applications, products or services. And they will have to inform the EU of any mergers and acquisitions.

Regarding confidentiality, gatekeepers cannot reuse private data required during one service for the needs of another service. And they can’t set unfair conditions for business users.

Fines can be up to 10% of a gatekeeper’s total worldwide revenue (turnover), or 20% for repeated violations. Other sanctions are possible.

South Korea has also implemented strict regulations for platforms, and there is talk of bipartisan legislation restricting tech giants in the United States.

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