Is the DMA providing real choices for people?

December 21, 2021
Platform Power

Today, 15th of December, the European Parliament has approved its position on the Digital Markets Act (DMA). While unfortunately, it scales down the DMA scope by limiting who will be considered a gatekeeper, the Parliament position adds a number of notable improvements from a digital rights perspective that help challenge digital gatekeepers’ overwhelming power.

In particular, European Digital Rights (EDRi) welcomes the addition of interoperability requirements for instant messaging and social media services provided by gatekeepers. Such core service interoperability is a pro-competitive tool that can play a major role in ensuring market contestability, innovation, competition and the empowerment of all of us.

“Enabling providers of smaller social media and messenger apps to interoperate with gatekeeper services is an important milestone in bringing back real choice for people.”

– Jan Penfrat, Senior Policy Advisor, EDRi.

While we welcome the Parliament position’s clear prohibition for gatekeepers to combine or cross-use personal data without consent, we call on the Rapporteur to close potential legal loopholes in article 5.1(a) that could allow gatekeepers to circumvent their legal obligation under GDPR to request consent for each processing purpose.

We support the new prohibition of dark patterns and encourage negotiators to ensure that clearer language is used to describe how regular dark patterns look like as has been the case in the European Parliament IMCO Committee’s position on the Digital Services Act. Dark patterns are user interface designs deliberately built to push users into making a certain choice that they would otherwise never have made, like the way most cookie banners work today.

“We are very glad to see that the Parliament is taking a first step towards a fair and interoperable market. It will now be important to put the objective of ending corporate concentration into a clear and enforceable language.”

– Christoph Schmon, International Policy Director, EDRi member, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

Just like the original European Commission proposal, the Parliament’s DMA position contains a number of additional important “dos and don’ts” that will increase user freedom and protection, as well as hopefully lead to a more diverse digital environment for all. For example, the freedom to install and remove the apps people actually prefer as well as to choose the best app stores rather than the one proscribed by the gatekeeper.

EDRi also very much welcomes the Parliament’s clear commitment to enabling end-users, consumer groups and other civil society organisations to support the DMA’s enforcement regime with a right to lodge complaints, provide input to the European Commission’s own investigations, and access documents relating to ongoing cases.

“Participation of end users and civil society organisations in the monitoring and enforcement of the DMA is fundamental to its successful implementation and to redress the imbalance of power between individuals and big platforms.”

– Tomaso Falchetta, Global Policy Lead, EDRi member, Privacy International.

The European Parliament and the Council are planning to commence trialogue negotiations for the Digital Markets Act in early 2022, expecting to finalise the Regulation by the spring.

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