Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Google, Meta, Microsoft and Samsung have all been given the gatekeeper label under the European Union’s Digital Markets Act, Reuters has reported. The announcement was made by the EU Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton, who has recently been in Japan.
TikTok has disputed its place on the list because it’s not sure that it meets some of the criteria, and Booking.com, which avoided the list this time, said that it expects to be labelled as a gatekeeper next year. TikTok argued that it doesn’t have an “unavoidable platform to conducting business in the EU” and that it isn’t “entrenched”.
According to the EU Commission website, the following criteria are used to define a gatekeeper:
- Has a strong economic position, significant impact on the internal market and is active in multiple EU countries.
- Has a strong intermediation position, meaning that it links a large user base to a large number of businesses.
- Has (or is about to have) an entrenched and durable position in the market, meaning that it is stable over time if the company met the two criteria above in each of the last three financial years.
As gatekeepers, the companies have various obligations so that they do not trample smaller competitors. For example, they cannot give preferential treatment to their own services and products, they can’t prevent customers from consumers linking up with businesses outside of their platforms, they can’t prevent users from uninstalling their pre-installed apps, and they can’t track users outside of their core platform service for targeted ads without consent.
Failure to comply with the rules will see companies hit with fines of up to 10% of their worldwide annual turnover, or 20% in the event of repeated infringements. There will also be periodical penalty payments of up to 5% of average daily turnover and additional remedies where systematic infringements are spotted.
Apple and Google are the two companies expected to be most heavily affected by these rules as they both control popular mobile operating systems - iOS and Android - and offer a plethora of online services.