The Proposed Digital Markets Act’s Effect On Free Internet Services

On 15 December 2020, the European Commission (“Commission”) proposed the “Digital Services Package”. This package comprises proposals for two directly effective regulations, namely the (1) Digital Services Act (“DSA”) and (2) the Digital Markets Act (“DMA”).[1] The objective of these regulations is to create a “digital safe space” and “fair online competition” in the EU.

Due to its far-reaching terms, the DMA would likely require changes to the business models of big tech. Mandatory ‘big tech benevolence’ may well benefit “business users”, i.e. people or companies that use platforms to provide goods or services to internet users. Because, as economist Milton Friedman famously stated “there is no such thing as a free lunch,” however, changes in big tech’s business models prompted by the DMA might also affect free internet services.

This blog post presents a preliminary analysis of the DMA’s possible consequences for ‘the internet as we know it,’ i.e., for ‘big tech’, smaller internet-based competitors, and European users. The analysis is based on the DMA as it was proposed by the Commission on 15 December 2020; the scope and content of the DMA could still be amended during the legislative process. In the first part, the main prohibitions, obligations and rights set forth in the DMA, and the revenue impacts thereof for ‘big tech,’ are analyzed. The DMA’s possible consequences for smaller players and European consumers are discussed in part two. In the third part, the concept of ‘data as currency’ is clarified. The final part lays out the conclusions.

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