Do you make use of online platforms to sell your products or services? Such platforms can help you reach many customers. At the same time, this can make you increasingly dependent on a limited number of large online platforms. These platforms are called gatekeepers.
The Digital Markets Act (DMA) lays down rules to protect consumers and businesses, and to ensure more competition in digital markets. Gatekeepers have to follow the rules from the Digital Markets Act (DMA).
What are gatekeepers?
- Gatekeepers are large online platforms that businesses and consumers can hardly avoid anymore. The European Commission has determined that these are Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta, and Microsoft. They:
- have a strong position in the internal EU market
- offer a core platform service (for example a search engine, video platform, or social network) and
- have had a strong market position for several years
Examples of what gatekeepers must do
Gatekeepers must, among others:
- offer fair terms to entrepreneurs when they offer apps in the app store.
- provide businesses with access to the data they generate on the gatekeeper’s platform.
- provide businesses with access to the data on the performance of their advertisements on the platform.
- ensure that apps and payment services of businesses work with the gatekeeper's operating system and hardware (interoperability).
Examples of what gatekeepers cannot do
Gatekeepers are, for instance, not allowed to:
- prohibit businesses from offering products or services on their own website or on another platform at a lower price or against more favourable conditions. This is also called a parity clause.
- promote or treat their own products or services more favourably in the search results.
- require businesses to use specific additional services, such as the gatekeeper’s payment services for in-app purchases.
- use data that the platform collects from businesses through one service to compete with that business for another service.
- prevent businesses from communicating outside the app store with customers and offer them subscriptions.
The European Commission is supervisor of the DMA. The European Commission takes all formal decisions on gatekeepers and can impose fines. National competent authorities cooperate with the European Commission in supervising. In the Netherlands, the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) is the competent authority.
The DMA applies since 2 May 2023. Gatekeepers then have 6 months to comply with the rules from the DMA. From then on, as an entrepreneur you can contact the European Commission and the ACM if you have a complaint about a gatekeeper.
At present, the ACM cannot investigate complaints you may file. For these investigative powers the Minster of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy has drafted a bill that will be sent shortly to the upper and lower houses of parliament (eerste en tweede kamer). However, the ACM can pass on signals to the European Commission. You can use the ACM’s complaints desk for this purpose. These complaints will then be used by the European Commission to conduct investigations. As soon as the bill has been approved by the upper and lower houses of parliament, the ACM can conduct investigations for the DMA. It is expected this will be in the course of 2024.