The Digital Markets Act (‘DMA’) was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council to ensure fair competition under the EU roof and provide users with more alternatives.
As Big Tech companies such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple are considered to dominate the market to an extent that is harmful, the European Commission does not want to put the interests of consumers in the hands of these giant companies (DMA, para. 4). The goal is to increase competition and make confidential data of individuals more secure with the Digital Markets Act which came into force last year. Thus, companies are expected to carry out more innovative work and offer more choices to consumers.
Companies Supervised by the Digital Markets Act: the Gatekeepers
Another principal obligation, and indeed a rule that reflects the aim of the DMA, is set out in clause 6.2. According to the article, gatekeepers cannot use data produced or submitted by business users to compete with these businesses. Other clauses of the DMA require the gatekeeper to share specific metrics, data and statistics with business users, advertisers and publishers.
In addition to the obligations regarding data access and use, one of the obligations that the DMA specifically imposes on search engines is the prohibition of ranking their own services (clause 6.5). They need to be particularly transparent in this regard. It is also regulated in a separate provision (clause 6.12) that Gatekeepers must ensure fair and reasonable access of business users to search engines.
Core Platform Services
Some special rules should be considered when using core platform services within the scope of the DMA. For example, some gatekeepers may be currently allowing the use of a core platform service with the condition that the same user must also use other core platform services of the same gatekeeper. This is a prohibited practice for gatekeepers under clause 5.8. It is also forbidden to make it too difficult for users to quit core platform services (clause 6.13). In addition, gatekeepers are obligated not to prevent business users from marketing their products and services through other channels and not to prevent them from promoting these alternatives to their core platform services.
The Effect of the Law on Businesses and the Fate of the Digital Markets Law
Considering the effect of these rules in practice, a concrete example would be platforms like Apple Store, which might be amongst those who will initially be seriously affected. This is because there is currently no alternative app downloading platform to App Store for IOS systems. However, an alternative platform can be established by enforcing the Act. Therefore, Apple will be seriously affected since it takes 30% commission from applications. On the other hand, Android phones do not face such a risk as they have a more open development platform.
Regarding actors who will benefit from the Act, new businesses that want to take advantage of a fairer competition environment will shift to the EU market. Finally, we would like to point out that the increase in commercial data transparency will lead to new marketing activities and services.
Application of the rules will also mean that customers and competitors can report data breaches, discrimination and anti-competitive behaviour (Para. 42).
Future of Digital Markets Law
The long-term effects of the DMA are predicted to be significant. As it is an essential step against the current hegemony of Big Tech companies, it can be seen as the beginning of a new era. Although such a law has entered into force only within the borders of the EU, studies on draft laws have been started in many different countries. In the long run, it can be said that the change in the EU will determine the direction of all world markets and that similar legislation will come into force in different economies. In this process, the case law which will emerge from the enforcement of the DMA will be an essential reference point.
Digital Markets Law in Turkey
The Competition Authority in Turkey recently completed a study on provisions similar to those in the Digital Markets Act. This comprehensive study on the online economy was published in April 2022 under the title E-Marketplace Platforms Industry Review Preliminary Report. The report recommends the implementation of new obligations on market actors in a way similar to the duties of the gatekeepers as stipulated in the DMA.
Enforcement of the Digital Markets Act
With the entry into force of the DMA, the notification period for potential gatekeepers to the European Commission begins as of 2 May 2023. Notifications must be completed within two months. With the completion of the notification period, the Commission will identify companies that meet the gatekeeper criteria within 45 days at the latest. With the completion of this process, gatekeepers must fulfil their DMA obligations within six months. Thus, the process will be completed latest by 6 March 2024.
What are the differences between the Digital Markets Act and the European Digital Services Act?
These European Acts target online platforms, and their enforcement processes continue in parallel as they come into force in similar periods. However, the primary purpose of the DMA is to maintain competition in the online market economy. The Digital Services Act ensures the transparency of online platforms in data collection to prevent illegal content and information pollution.