EU Digital Markets Act needs to be bolder to address data exploitation by digital gatekeepers

Privacy International welcomes the aim of the EU Digital Markets Act to address some of the challenges posed by the way the current digital markets operate. However, we believe that the proposal put forward by the European Commission in December 2020 contains some shortcomings that need to be addressed, if the DMA were to be effective in tackling these challenges.

Key advocacy points

While the Digital Markets Act contains important positive elements, PI’s preliminary comments aim to address the current shortcomings of the proposal, notably:
•    The lack of focus on the rights and interests of end users;
•    The weak interoperability provision;
•    The lack of measures to address the negative effects of mergers;
•    The need for transparency in profiling;
•    The failure to include civil society in the implementation and monitoring of the DMA;
•    The need to assess DMA’s full conformity with the General Data Protection Regulation.

Image by Guillaume Périgois via unsplash

Image by Guillaume Périgois via unsplash

As part of a package of measures aimed at addressing the challenges posed by big tech companies, the European Commission proposed a Digital Markets Act, whose intended aim is “to allow end users and business users alike to reap the full benefits of the platform economy and the digital economy at large, in a contestable and fair environment.”

The proposal contains provisions that could benefit individuals as they engage with services provided by big tech companies ('gatekeepers' in the language of the Act.) However, we believe that the proposal falls short of its stated aim by not adequately addressing the negative effects of gatekeepers’ practices on end users; and by not supporting the emergence of new platforms and competition among existing and new platforms, for the benefit of users.

Further, the proposal fails to recognize any role for civil society in the implementation and monitoring of the DMA.

In our analysis, we detail these and other shortcomings and we recommend that the DMA is amended to:

  • Include a strong interoperability requirement applicable to core services provided by digital platforms;
  • Address the lack of focus on end users;
  • Address negative effects of mergers in the digital markets
  • Strenghten the requirements of auding and transparency related to profiling
  • Include provisions to ensure that civil society organisations are enabled to a) make a request to the Commission for the opening of a market investigation; b) notify the Commission of suspected infringements; and c) provide the Commission with information to open market investigations into new concerning practices.
  • Ensure full compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation