how the DSA and DMA will affect Big Tech (and us)

DSA and DMA. They are not the names of two car companies or new connectivity standards. They are one of those acronyms that we will probably hear more and more, especially since they change the rules of the game for the big technology companies that operate in Europe. These companies will now have a little less power and a little more responsibility.

What is the Digital Services Act (DSA). This legislation wants to regulate practically all the aspects that affect digital content, from algorithms —we will be able to choose systems not based on our interests— to disinformation, including advertising and application stores. Companies become much more responsible for what they publish.

The first draft was announced at the end of 2020, and among other things, it prohibits individualized online advertising based on aspects such as religion, sexual orientation or ethnic origin. Dark patterns are also prohibited and platforms will need to explain why content has been removed and provide tools to claim in such cases.

What is the Digital Markets Law (DMA). With this regulation, “sister” of the previous one, the Big Tech become guardians of our data. It focuses, yes, on service companies and not hardware (Sony or Samsung would be left out). It will force, for example, interoperability, which means that a future awaits us in which WhatsApp and Telegram are connected.

However, another especially noteworthy point is that it affects application stores and payment systems: the controversy between Apple and Epic Games could disappear in Europe, for example, although the concept opens the door to many interpretations. Innovation is also favored so that small startups can compete, and users will be able to install other browsers or uninstall applications and configurations pre-installed on their devices.

The great European regulation of the digital world (DSA and DMA) is already here: what it implies and how it will affect us Internet users

Users win.. The DSA and DMA especially benefit Internet users, who gain more freedom and choice when using their devices and the software and services associated with them.

The companies and platforms that currently dominate the market will have to give up some of their old privileges if they do not want to face million-dollar fines (up to 10% of the total annual worldwide turnover of the offending company) or even if they do not want the use of these products and services in the old continent.

Against monopolies and walled gardens. As the EU FAQ itself indicates, this European Union initiative is one more way to fight against the immense power of Big Tech. Companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta or Facebook will have to get their act together and prepare to comply all DSA and DMA requirements.

This fight against the closed ecosystems that are now the basis of the operation of most of these companies is especially significant: all of them will have to enable data transfer systems between one another, something that is probably a great technological challenge in itself. The tech giants are already on the move to meet those requirements, and they’ll have plenty of time to do so, though.

It is already in force (but it will take a while to activate). The new laws have entered into force this week, on November 1, but will begin to apply six months after that date, from May 2, 2023. From that moment, in the DMA for example “the guardians Potential access providers will have two months to notify their basic platform services to the Commission if they reach the quantitative thresholds established by said Law”.

The notification will therefore have to take place on July 3, 2023, and from then on the Commission will have 45 working days to evaluate and designate that access guardian as such, something that would occur on September 6, 2023. Once designated, that gatekeeper will have six months to conform to the DMA requirements, which will finally make the legislation—which will certainly not be easy to enforce—activate for that gatekeeper beginning March 6, 2024.

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