European Union reaches preliminary agreement on antitrust law targeting tech giants

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The European Union has agreed to pass the Digital Markets Act (DMA), a sweeping antitrust law designed to rein in Apple, Google, Meta and other tech giants. Lawmakers reached a “provisional” agreement on the law on Thursday, after hours of negotiations, the European Parliament wrote in a statement.

The law can have far-reaching implications, some of which extend beyond Europe. One of the main provisions of the DMA is that message providers must make their services interoperable with other services. “EU lawmakers agreed that the largest messaging services (such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or iMessage) should open and partner with smaller messaging platforms if they ask,” the EU parliament said after the agreement.

It is currently unclear whether this requirement would also apply to interoperability between the major messaging platforms themselves. Parliament wrote that the interoperability provisions for social networks “will be assessed in the future”.

In a statement, an Apple spokesperson said the company was “concerned” about some aspects of the law. “We remain concerned that some provisions of the DMA will create unnecessary privacy and security concerns for our users, while others will prohibit us from charging for intellectual property in which we invest heavily,” the spokesperson said. “We believe deeply in competition and in creating thriving competitive markets around the world, and we will continue to work with stakeholders across Europe in hopes of mitigating these vulnerabilities.”

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company’s WhatsApp head, Will Cathcart, wrote on Twitter that he hoped the law was “extremely considerate.” “Interoperability can have benefits, but if not done carefully, it could cause a tragic weakening of security and privacy in Europe,” he said. said

The DMA also prohibits companies from “combining personal data for targeted advertising” without express consent, a measure that could limit the ability of Meta and others to display targeted ads to users. As The New York Times points out, there are still many questions about how European lawmakers will enforce these new rules, and the companies in question are likely to face legal challenges.

Past bills also include provisions that would change the way Apple and Google run their app stores. Under the proposed rules, Apple should allow users to install apps from other stores, and both Apple and Google should allow developers to bypass their business; storefronts and use their own billing. It is unclear whether those provisions are included in the latest agreement. The European Parliament will hold a press conference on Friday, when they are expected to share more details.

Updated with a comment from Will Cathcart.

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