On Thursday 24 March 2022, European Parliament and European Council negotiators agreed on how the new Digital Markets Act (DMA) will look. The DMA will focus on limiting the market power of big online platforms and giving consumers more control over their data.
Interoperability of messaging apps
One of the important innovations of the DMA is that it obliges the largest messaging services to open up and interoperate with smaller services. This means that users of different services can connect with each other; for example, a WhatsApp user can chat with a Signal user, and vice versa. Currently, the individual messaging services are not interoperable; WhatsApp users can only send messages to other users on the WhatsApp platform, and the same goes for other services. The interoperability requirement in the DMA thus brings the messaging services in line with email in the sense that the sender and recipient of a message can each use different services (e.g. a Gmail user can easily email someone who uses Outlook).
Possibility to eliminate pre-installed apps
Additionally, the DMA will give users the right to remove pre-installed apps on their mobile devices. At present, device manufacturers supply smartphones and tablets with some apps – either for their own services or from partners – already included. The DMA stipulates that users must be able to uninstall such apps unless they are functionally essential.
The DMA is also aimed at better protecting the privacy of users. For example, companies that collect personal data on different platforms for targeted advertising will only be allowed to combine this data when they have received the user’s explicit permission. This rule will affect the so-called gatekeeper companies like Meta, which may currently combine data gathered separately on its platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.
We are happy with this development and regard it as another promising move towards a more sustainable digital future. As the next step, we hope that the interoperability requirements will also soon be extended to social networks.