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Big Tech companies face new law in European clampdown

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New legislation being drawn up by European lawmakers could curtail the increasing dominance of Big Tech companies including Google, Apple and Microsoft (opens in new tab).

If passed, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) will mean that the computing giants will be faced with having to offer their services and platforms to a wider array of businesses in the future.

The move is seen as a way of reducing the power of Big Tech companies, which are frequently criticized for using their muscle to squeeze out smaller competitors. The EU is keen to tackle what it deems as ‘anti-trust’ issues, as well as the methods used to quash competition, particularly from the big name US tech players.

Examples of the crackdown could include Apple being forced to make its App Store available to third-party payment options, rather than its own. Similarly, the bill would let iPhone users remove the Safari web browser, along with other integrated Apple-centric apps that cannot normally be deleted.

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Big Tech is fighting back

Meanwhile, Google could find itself having to offer Android users alternative options to popular software tools such as the Chrome web browser and Google Maps.

The EU wants to broaden the range of scope for people by providing more choice than that currently provided by a whole range of large tech companies. For example, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and iMessage are three everyday messaging tools used by millions of people that could face curbs if the legislation is passed.

Apple has countered the claims of having too much dominance by warning that the new law could create more issues around privacy and security. However, Google looks to be reasonably supportive of the legislation, but harbours a concern that the new rules will actually reduce choice for its customers and stifle innovation too.

The DMA was instigated by EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager and has been drawn up over the last twelve months following concerns about what she sees as the monopoly being held by Big Tech companies. Commenting on the progress to date, Vestager stated that big businesses she dubbed as ‘gatekeeper’s have a duty to take more responsibility.

If it comes into place the new law will give the EU substantial powers to regulate the major tech firms. However, it will only apply to Big Tech companies with monthly users over 45 million, a value in excess of €75bn and annual sales of €7.5bn. That leaves many smaller firms with little to worry about. 

Big Tech concerns are also rigorously lobbying against the legislation, so there is still no guarantee the DMA will be passed in the European Parliament. Ministers from the EU’s 27 member states will also get to have their say and vote on the law following protracted negotiations with the major tech companies.

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Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember, having started out in the wacky world of print magazines before discovering the power of the internet. Since he's been all-digital he has run the Innovation channel during a few years at Microsoft as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide, Fit&Well, Gizmodo, Shortlist, Automotive Interiors World, Automotive Testing Technology International, Future of Transportation and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. In the rare moments he's not working he's usually out and about on one of numerous e-bikes in his collection.