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New EU law targets big tech companies with expansive digital antitrust law

The EU's new law will make big tech companies subject to a number of obligations and prohibitions designed to prohibit what the 27-member union considers unfair market practices or practices that create or strengthen barriers for other companies. File Photo by Patrick Seeger/EPA-EFE
The EU's new law will make big tech companies subject to a number of obligations and prohibitions designed to prohibit what the 27-member union considers unfair market practices or practices that create or strengthen barriers for other companies. File Photo by Patrick Seeger/EPA-EFE

March 25 (UPI) -- The European Union has passed a new law that lays out a wide range of rules that target the world's most influential technology companies, and could change the way customers shop, see ads and interact online.

Part of the motivation for the Digital Markets Act is to boost competition, open markets to new competitors and decrease the influence of a small number of tech giants.

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The European Commission said the law is among the first initiatives to comprehensively regulate the power of so-called "tech gatekeeper power."

"What we want is simple: Fair markets also in digital," EC Competition Commissioner and Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said in a statement Thursday. "We are now taking a huge step forward to get there -- that markets are fair, open and contestable."

Vestager said large gatekeeper tech platforms are stifling competition and keeping consumers from the benefits of an open digital market. One way Big Tech is doing this, she says, is favoring their own products over similar products on e-commerce platforms.

The EU said almost a year ago that it was investigating Google over whether the U.S. tech giant is stifling competition in the bloc by favoring its own digital advertising platform. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
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Vestager said more than a year ago that Amazon, in particular, was using its dominant market position to distort competition. Similar complaints have been leveled at other online giants like Google and Apple.

"The gatekeepers will now have to comply with a well-defined set of obligations and prohibitions," Vestager added. "This regulation, together with strong competition law enforcement, will bring fairer conditions to consumers and businesses for many digital services across the EU."

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The EU's new law will make big tech companies subject to a number of obligations and prohibitions designed to prohibit what the 27-member union considers unfair market practices or practices that create or strengthen barriers for other companies.

The Digital Markets Act will also create an enforcement mechanism to ensure speedy compliance.

"This agreement seals the economic leg of our ambitious reorganization of our digital space in the EU internal market," Thierry Brenton, EC commissioner for the internal market, said in a statement. "We will quickly work on designating gatekeepers based on objective criteria."

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Brenton said companies will have six months to comply with the new obligations.

"Through effective enforcement, the new rules will bring increased contestability and fairer conditions for consumers and business users, which will allow for more innovation and choice in the market," he said.

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