EU Lawmakers Look To Pass Online Platform Bills Next Week

The European Parliament will hold the last plenary session before the summer recess from July 4 to July 7, and lawmakers are rushing to get all the legal texts ready for a vote. As expected, the schedule for the next plenary session is packed with proposals, from international cooperation agreements to banking unions and rules to combat fraud. 

But there are two long-awaited proposals that may be in the spotlight, and Google, Apple, Meta and other Big Tech companies may be paying close attention to them. The Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA) may receive formal approval by the plenary of the EU Parliament. This would mean that these two legal texts would surpass the last procedural hurdle in Parliament: they would be sent to the EU Council and then published in the EU Official Journal. 

The DMA will ban certain practices used by large platforms acting as “gatekeepers” and will enable the European Commission to carry out market investigations and impose hefty fines. The bill targets large companies providing so-called “core platform services” most prone to unfair business practices, such as social networks or search engines, with a market capitalization of at least 75 billion euro or an annual turnover of 7.5 billion. 

The EU Parliament Committee endorsed a deal with the EU Council on May 16, paving the way for a final approval in the next plenary session, but last-minute amendments are still possible, as long as they are minimal changes — otherwise it could risk derailing the agreement with the EU Council. This is what lawmakers are probably discussing this week. In preparation for next week’s plenary session, lawmakers may still add a few changes to ensure there are not procedural inconsistencies with other laws that the DMA may affect. 

Once the DMA is published in the EU Official journal, it will enter into force 20 days following the publication, but the application of the provisions won’t start until six months later. Thus, any real risk for Big Tech firms will likely be pushed back to 2023. 

The DSA is a landmark law that will hold Big Tech companies accountable for the illegal content posted on their platforms — they will be required to put in place mechanisms to ensure the content is removed in a timely fashion. Online platforms will be obliged to be more transparent and more accountable, for example by allowing users to be informed of how content is recommended to them. Very large online platforms will have to provide users with at least one option not based on profiling. Additional rules on online advertising are also introduced, including a ban on the use of sensitive data or targeting of minors. The so-called “dark patterns” and misleading practices aimed at manipulating users’ choices will also be prohibited. 

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