Imagine if someone using Apple iMessage, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger would be able to directly message someone on a different company’s service? Well, the new Digital Markets Act coming soon from the European Union (EU) may very well force big businesses to allow this to happen.
The Digital Markets Act (DMA) is an EU regulation proposal under consideration by the European Commission whose purpose is to force the opening up of the markets in communications, social media, etc. to ensure that there will be real competition in these markets. People the world over complain that Facebook, Apple, Amazon and all the other big powerhouses of the digital age have cornered the market on such services and, therefore, act as a consortium keeping out true competition.
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Amazon’s Android operating system might be offered free to any and all mobile device manufacturers, but the company requires that third parties turn over to it all of their user data. This, as with Google and Facebook, has harmed new businesses from breaking into the market and force everyone to work under the terms dictated by the big companies, say the critics.
So, what does the Digital Markets Act actually do about this? It establishes a list of obligations for companies like Facebook and Apple that it calls “Gatekeepers” – for their de facto control of access to such services – to observe which the EU hopes will allow for greater competition. If a company does not comply with the new regulations, it can be fined in an amount up to as much as 10% of its worldwide revenues.
The EU said that under the Digital Markets Act WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Apple’s iMessage and others would be required to “open up and interoperate with smaller messaging platforms.” This would mean that people will no longer need to choose between the two companies that now control almost all of the messaging market.
“Users of small or big platforms would then be able to exchange messages, send files or make video calls across messaging apps,” the European Parliament and Council of the European Union said in a statement about the Digital Markets Act.
Obviously, the Digital Markets Act would only be enforced within the member states of the EU as well as affiliated nations. But many more countries in Europe and close to it in Africa and Asia might also be pressured to comply with the regulations as well. And, of course, once such a change is made in such a large area of the world it will be hard for Apple, Amazon and Facebook to keep the public everywhere else from demanding this as well.