With a large majority, the European Parliament has decided on stricter regulation of large Internet companies such as Google and Amazon. MEPs finally approved the Market Control Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA) in Strasbourg on Tuesday. With the Digital Markets Act, the EU wants to prevent anti-competitive behavior by large Internet companies in the European Union. The Digital Services Act obliges online platforms, among other things, to step up action against hate and false news.
EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton spoke of a “historic day” in Strasbourg. The EU now has “finally a regulation” for its “digital space,” he said in a video message. EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager also welcomed the result of the vote and described the regulations as “strong, ambitious regulation of online platforms”.
With the DSA, the EU wants to regulate particularly the very large online groups with more than 45 million active users in the EU. There are potentially around 20 companies, including Google with its subsidiary Youtube, Meta with Facebook and Instagram, Microsoft with its social network LinkedIn, Amazon, Apple and Twitter.
In addition to the fight against disinformation and hate messages, consumers should also be strengthened: For example, online shops will have to check the identity of suppliers in the future before they offer their products for sale.
With the Market Control Act, Apple could be forced to allow the competition’s app stores on its iPhones. Google and Amazon should be prohibited from giving preference to their own services in their search results. The EU Commission proposed the stricter regulations in December 2020.
“We are taking back control from the tech giants,” said Danish Social Democrat Christel Schaldemose at the preceding debate on Monday. She was in charge of drafting the DSA in the EU Parliament. The co-chair of the left-wing faction in the EU Parliament, Martin Schirdewan, described the stricter rules as a “milestone” to “combat digital monopolies”.
With the new rules, it is planned that the European Commission will monitor compliance with the rules by the very large digital groups, for which they should give them access to their data. The CDU MEP Andreas Schwab, who was in charge of the market control law, explained on Twitter that the new laws would only be “effective” if the responsible department in the commission “gets enough staff”.
The European Consumers’ Association (BEUC) had also called for the EU Commission to hire the experts it still needed. In response, Industry Commissioner Breton announced the hiring of 100 full-time experts by 2024 and the creation of a European Center for Transparency in Algorithms.
Parliament and member states had previously agreed informally on the new laws in negotiations. The formal agreement of the two sides to the negotiated compromise was still missing. The member states are expected to give their approval next week.