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The internet has been revolutionized as a result of a new regulation that has been implemented in Europe. This law makes the process of establishing a prosperous technology business much more difficult. On November 1st, the Digital Markets Act of the European Union was put into effect and became fully operational.
What Does It Mean in Practice?
It's the first step in a process that's meant to drive major tech companies like Amazon, Meta, and Google to release more open and interoperable versions of their platforms by 2023.
This is a fresh reminder that Europe has much more actively regulated digital businesses than the United States, and it has the potential to bring about substantial changes in how consumers can use their gadgets and apps. The changing rules around the internet globally also made many Canadians opt for toll-free numbers. This led to some Canadian providers offering these services.
Gerard de Graaf, a seasoned EU official who assisted in the passage of the DMA earlier this year, was quoted as saying, "We expect the implications to be considerable." He was appointed director of a new EU office located in San Francisco at the beginning of this month. The office was formed in part to explain the ramifications of the law to large technology businesses. According to De Graaf, they will be compelled to rip open the gates of their walled gardens.
De Graaf spoke in a conference room with emerald-green accents at the Irish embassy in San Francisco, which is where the EU's office is housed. "If you have an iPhone, you should be able to download apps not just from the App Store but from other app stores or the Internet," de Graaf adds. The DMA mandates major platforms to allow in smaller competitors and could even compel Meta's WhatsApp to receive messages from other apps like Telegram or Signal. Additionally, the DMA could ban Apple, Amazon, and Google from favoring their own applications and services.
Even though implementation of the DMA has already begun, technological platforms are not required to comply immediately. The European Union (EU) must first determine which businesses are sufficiently significant and well-established to be labeled as "gatekeepers" and be subject to the strictest regulations. According to De Graaf, perhaps a dozen different companies will be a part of that group, which will be revealed in the spring. After that, those gatekeepers will have a period of 6f months to bring themselves into compliance.
De Graaf Outlines the Guidelines for Using the Internet in Europe
De Graaf has stated that he anticipates a surge of litigation contesting Europe's new standards for Big Tech, but he is currently in California to assist in making it clear to the titans of Silicon Valley that the rules have changed. According to him, the European Union (EU) has in the past levied significant fines against companies such as Google, Apple, and others as a result of antitrust investigations. This was a procedure that placed the burden of evidence on bureaucrats. Under the DMA, the responsibility for conformity rests with the company in question. According to de Graaf, the most important takeaway is that "the negotiations are over, and we're in a compliance issue." "You might not agree with that, but that's just how things are."
Because certain aspects of compliance will be simpler to implement on a global scale, it is anticipated that the DMA will lead to changes in how tech platforms serve people beyond the 400 million Internet users in the EU. This is due to the fact that the GDPR, the digital privacy law of the EU, will have the same effect.
Strict Regulations To Come Into Force
Tech companies will also soon be forced to contend with a second sweeping EU law known as the Digital Services Act. This law mandates risk assessments of certain disclosures and algorithms about automated decision-making. It also has the potential to force social apps such as TikTok to make their data open for external scrutiny. The law will be implemented in stages, with the compliance deadline for the most significant online platforms being set for the middle of 2024. Additionally, the European Union is contemplating the passage of specific regulations pertaining to artificial intelligence (AI), which may result in the prohibition of some applications of the technology.
According to De Graaf, stricter regulations for digital giants are required not only to assist in the protection of individuals and other enterprises from unethical business activities but also to make it possible for society to reap the full advantages of technology. The White House has just issued a nonbinding AI Bill of Rights, which he has criticized, stating that a lack of rigorous regulation can harm the public's confidence in the technology. "They are going to avoid AI, and it will never be successful," he adds. "If our citizens lose trust in AI because they believe it discriminates against them and leads to consequences that are destructive to their life," he argues, "they are going to shun AI."
Collaboration on the Way to a New Internet
After recent steps taken by both the EU and the United States to engage more on tech policy, the new office for the EU was just launched. According to De Graaf, both camps are interested in discovering solutions to the problem of chip shortages as well as methods by which authoritarian governments might make use of technology and the internet.
In addition to this, he is making plans to travel to Sacramento in order to speak with members of the California state legislature who, in his opinion, have been pioneers in confronting Big Tech. A law that mandates stringent default privacy settings for children and limits how businesses use the information they collect about children was recently approved by legislators and signed into law. With the exception of the CHIPS and Science Act, which allocated $52 billion to promote semiconductor production and was enacted into law in July, the United States Congress has approved very little legislation in recent years that has had an impact on the technology industry.
According to Marlena Wisniak, who directs the work on technology at the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law, a nonprofit that advocates for civil liberties, the European Union's increased presence in the backyard of the technology industry is additional evidence that the block is serious about impacting technology policy globally. She suggests that de Graaf could utilize some of that authority to help people in countries other than the United States and the European Union who depend on the platforms of large internet companies but are rarely represented in tech diplomacy.
Wisniak also has high hopes that the EU's digital emissaries will be able to avoid the pitfalls that have derailed the plans of some previous newcomers to Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley is a place where there are a great deal more entrepreneurs, executives, and investors than there are policy experts. She says, "I hope that politicians in the EU don't get fooled by the buzz surrounding technology." "There is truth to the tech bro narrative."
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