The EU's Digital Markets Act comes into force in March 2024. The law promises fair competition on the Internet and is intended to limit the market power of large corporations. This should strengthen consumer rights. We will therefore give you an overview of the most important changes.

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) was passed by the EU Parliament on July 6, 2022. It officially came into force on November 1, 2022. Among other things, it is intended to ensure fair competition on the Internet and limit the market power of large tech companies.

For this purpose, the DMA appoints so-called gatekeepers. This refers to online platforms that enjoy a competitive advantage or even a monopoly through their market power. The Digital Markets Act will in future oblige these companies to comply with certain rules within the EU in order to ensure fairer competition.

Digital Markets Act: More consumer protection?

In September 2023, the European Union named the first six gatekeepers under the Digital Market Act. In addition to Facebook parent company Meta and TikTok parent company ByteDance, these also include Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Google parent company Alphabet. The EU has given the gatekeepers six months to implement the law – until March 7, 2024.

However, the European Union and the European Commission have not only found these companies and their platforms to have competitive advantages due to their market power, but also repeatedly to engage in anti-competitive practices. One of the EU's goals is therefore for the Digital Markets Act to strengthen the rights of consumers. In the following overview we therefore explain what should change in the future at consumer level.

1. More opportunities for alternative search engines

One of the EU's goals is for the Digital Markets Act to help alternative search engines break through Google's monopoly to some extent in order to stimulate competition. For this reason, search engine giant Google Chrome will have to show Chrome users a selection screen in the future so they can choose an alternative search engine.

The same applies to Apple's Safari browser – especially on the iPhone. The reason: Google was previously the default search engine in most browsers. The competition therefore hardly had a chance. The DMA should change that. But there is another problem.

Because of Google's monopoly position with a market share of over 80 percent, most people hardly know any alternatives and would probably not consider them – selection screen or not. That's why we're introducing you to five alternative search engines that can not only keep up with Google, but are sometimes even better.

2. WhatsApp must open to other messengers

Gatekeeper company Meta will have to open WhatsApp to other messengers in the future. This means that it should be possible to send messages between different messenger services. According to the EU, this case only occurs if the smaller providers want it at all.

However, the operators of the Signal and Telegram messengers have repeatedly stated that they do not want to open WhatsApp. The reason: Since their own data protection standards are higher than those of the gatekeeper platform, they fear that their own guidelines will be restricted. Whether and to what extent cross-messenger communication will take place in the future is therefore initially questionable.

3. Apple needs to open up to other app stores

From March 2024, the DMA will oblige Apple to open up alternative app stores, which the company also calls app marketplaces. Specifically, this means that iPhone users should be able to install other stores in the future in order to obtain apps from them.

From now on, the company must also allow other payment methods beyond Apple Pay. The Digital Markets Act requires Apple to show users a selection screen when they open its Safari browser so that they can choose a different default browser. The same applies to selecting a default search engine.

4. More control over apps on your devices

According to the Digital Markets Act, consumers should in future have more control over which apps are on their devices. This means that you should at least be able to uninstall pre-installed apps. This wasn't always the case before, especially on the iPhone.

5. More transparency in data processing

The DMA will require gatekeeper companies to provide clear information about what data is being collected and for what purpose. Users must also be given the opportunity to actively consent to or reject data collection.

In the future, cross-platform data processing will only be possible if users do not request a separation of services. For example, within the framework of the DMA, Meta must offer the option of stopping the data exchange between Facebook, Instagram and Co. or of being able to create new accounts for the individual services.

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