Digital Markets Act
The European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) provides a strong basis for addressing persistent anti-competitive practices of gatekeeper digital platforms and ensuring fair and contestable digital markets in the European Union.
With a few large platforms currently acting as unavoidable gateways between businesses and their end users, it is increasingly essential for the EU to act in a coordinated fashion to prevent these gatekeepers from engaging in unfair practices and undermining contestability — behaviours that lead directly to higher prices, lower quality, and less choice and innovation for European consumers. The Coalition for App Fairness stands ready to support the European Commission in its goal to ensure fair and open digital markets and prevent gatekeepers from enforcing monopolistic rules and behaviours to benefit all users and developers.
The DMA could have far-reaching benefits for all users of the major app stores. CAF urges the European Commission to achieve a strong enforcement of the DMA that puts the needs of European consumers and businesses first. We welcome any opportunity to support the European Commission in its enforcement efforts.
The DMA expands protections for developers and users from gatekeepers’ many unfair, anti-competitive behaviours.
The DMA proposal reflects many of CAF’s App Store Principles that promote a level playing field for app stores, developers, and consumers. CAF applauds all these new protections:
- The DMA requires that all gatekeepers allow other app stores on their platforms. This means that Apple will no longer be able to force all developers and consumers to use the App Store to get software on their iOS devices. For the first time, there will be real competition for the App Store.
- The DMA prohibits gatekeepers from limiting developers in using core platform services only if they use certain ancillary services as well. The latter specifically covers proprietary single sign-on services (e.g. Sign In With Apple) and will cover gatekeeper-owned payment processors (e.g. Apple’s In-App Purchasing service).
- The DMA will address interoperability limitations to access to hardware and software features controlled via the operating system of a gatekeeper.
- The DMA requires that every developer who meets “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory” requirements have access to gatekeeper platforms, regardless of business model.
- TThe DMA prohibits gatekeepers from using a developer’s own data, as collected through using the platform or services provided together with or in support of the platform, to compete with the developer.
- The DMA ensures that developers can communicate with their customers, including about deals they might be interested in.
- The DMA ensures that gatekeepers cannot remove or ban apps on their platform that compete with apps made by the gatekeeper.
- The DMA addresses specific self-preferencing activities, such as banning gatekeepers from ranking their own apps more favorably than competitors and allowing users to uninstall a gatekeeper’s pre-installed apps.
Additional amendments are needed to further address anti-competitive practices from gatekeepers.
Importance of harmonised and strong enforcement:
The DMA demonstrates the legislative momentum across Europe and the globe for curtailing the anticompetitive practices of app store gatekeepers. As shown, numerous DMA provisions address Big Tech’s harmful practices that preserve their monopoly power while stifling true competition, hopefully paving the way for a competitively fairer app ecosystem for developers and consumers.
However, legislation is only as good as its enforcement. The case of Apple’s blatant refusal to comply with the decision of the Netherlands’ Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) shows that fines alone are not enough to dissuade anti-competitive behaviour from gatekeepers.
No company, no matter how large or powerful, should play the game only on their terms. We thus hope that the European Commission will be given sufficient resources and that it will strive for a timely and effective enforcement of the DMA.
Every app developer, regardless of their size or the nature of their business, is entitled to fair treatment by these app stores and the platform owners who operate them. As European and international policymakers seek to address these important issues, CAF urges them to enforce clear and fair rules in the digital market to the benefit of app developers and consumers.