Last week the officials in the European Union agreed on wording for the Digital Markets Act which seeks to reign in and control tech giants like Facebook and Google. The agreement has far reaching implications as many of the European standards have been accepted worldwide once formally adopted.
The Digital Markets Act will seek to monitory and police what lawmakers are referring to as gatekeeper platforms which are defined by factors including a market value of more than 75 billion euros. Companies that meet the definition include Alphabet, the parent company of Google, and Meta, the parent company of Facebook. Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft would also qualify for certain provisions of the act.
The Act seeks to address many issues currently being wrestled with globally. For example, the law will require message service providers such as WhatsApp and Signal will be required to allow users to message each other from one platform to the other. App store managers like Apple and Google will also have to loosen their control over which applications they allow to be purchased by consumers. Programs like Spotify and Epic games will also be allowed to pivot away from hardware exclusive payment methods to allow for greater competition. One the largest and potentially most powerful provisions of the act is the prohibition of using personal data for targeted ads without the "explicit consent" of the consumer.
Europe's moves stand in stark contrast to the inaction of American lawmakers when it comes to the tech space. While liberals have been pushing for greater moderation or supposed offensive speech and conservatives have alleged bias in newsfeed algorithms, neither side has brought forth real legislation to address the issue. Not even a push by then-President Donald Trump to revisit and revise § 230 of Title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which governs liability for online social media companies gained much traction beyond being a talking point on Twitter.
The new structure still needs to be put in place in order to monitor and enforce compliance with the Digital Markets Act. There will undoubtedly be a large cost to maintaining the bureaucracy necessary to implement such far reaching regulations. However, this may prove to be a necessary evil that benefits not only Europe but the entire world.