Big tech keeping consumers ‘in the dark,’ European rivals say


Twenty-four European companies have banded together to accuse big tech of not doing enough to engage with smaller rivals ahead of an EU regulatory deadline. 

In an open letter, the companies that include eco-friendly search engine Ecosia and Swedish media group Schibsted, say that Google parent company Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, TikTok-owner ByteDance, Meta, and Microsoft, should seek their input on how to comply with digital competition rules. 

Years in the making, the EU’s big tech regulation crusade is about to have tangible effects. As part of the landmark Digital Markets Act (DMA), in September last year the Commission designated six so-called gatekeeper companies (the usual suspects listed above).

Starting March 6 of this year, they will need to comply with the DMA obligations for their specified core platform services. These include things like opening up app stores for sideloading and making their messaging apps work with those of other developers. 

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“Gatekeepers have either failed to engage in a dialogue with third parties or have presented solutions falling short of compliance with the DMA. Businesses and consumers are largely kept in the dark as to what is going to happen after 7 March 2024,” the authors stated. 

The signatories also included VPN provider ProtonVPN, privacy-focused search engine Qwant, secure messaging app Element, and Norwegian payment application Vipps. They further added that they urge the gatekeepers to engage “as soon as possible with business users and other stakeholders” in order to reach compliance solutions before the deadline.

DMA deadline on the horizon

The DMA is an unprecedentedly tough digital competition legislation seeking to “break open” 22 gatekeeper services. Its main intention is to make it easier for people to choose what services they use, even those pre-installed on their smartphones. Along with the Digital Services Act (DSA), it forms the European Commission’s framework for reigning in the rule of big tech companies at the expense of consumer choice and fair competition from smaller rivals. 

With the deadline for DMA compliance fast approaching, smaller European companies understandably want clarity into what they will be dealing with on the other side. And frankly, as tech-conscious consumers, so do we.


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