EU: Digital Markets Act must enhance free speech

EU: Digital Markets Act must enhance free speech - Digital

Since the publication of the proposal for a Digital Markets Act (DMA), ARTICLE 19 has welcomed the European Commission’s aim to improve the way digital markets work. We have also highlighted that users’ human rights should be at the centre of plans to regulate the role platform gatekeepers play in the future of Europe’s digital environment.

The DMA is the first step towards finding solutions to tackle specific characteristics and harmful conduct in digital markets, which led to a handful of companies controlling key services in the digital economy. At the same time, we find that the European Commission’s proposal left a wide margin for improvement in a number of areas.

As the discussions about the DMA have reached the final stage, we call on the European Parliament and the Member States in the EU Council to produce a holistic and forward-looking regulatory framework that adequately protects end-users and business users’ rights alike while guaranteeing contestability and fairness on digital markets.

Therefore, ARTICLE 19 recommends in particular:

  1. To strengthen the focus on end-users’ rights and interests

We believe the DMA can achieve its contestability and fairness goals only if it adequately considers and protects end-users and business-users’ rights alike.

Various practices by gatekeepers exploit end-users excessively. These practices not only harm end-users’ economic interests as consumers and customers, but they also have a negative impact on users’ civic rights. In particular, individual gatekeepers can dictate a quality standard in the market that affects, among other things, the protection of users’ data, their freedom of expression and their right not to be discriminated against. Protecting end-users from exploitation by companies in strong market positions is traditionally one of the main goals of competition and pro-competitive measures. Unfortunately, the Commission has since concentrated excessively on the economic aspects of relationships between competitors. This is a failure that urgently needs fixing.

For these reasons, we support:

Article 1(1) EP; Article 1(2) EP; Article 3(1)(b) EP; Article 10(2)(a) EP

PDF version of our full recommendations


  1. To include end-users and their representatives in the enforcement process

As the DMA will have a strong impact on end-users’ rights, on the digital public sphere, and finally on our democracy, it is important that end-users and civil society organisations are provided adequate space and meaningful channels to contribute to the debate and the implementation of the regulatory framework. Moreover, providing them with proper mechanisms to participate will give greater legitimacy to the new regulatory regime, and it will enrich the regulators’ evidence base and improve the quality of their analysis. If the dialogue on compliance only considers the view of the gatekeepers, the chances to achieve the goals of the framework are likely to be significantly reduced: indeed, gatekeepers have no incentives in changing the status quo.

For these reasons, we support:

Recital 77c EP; Article 5(1)(d) EP; Article 24a EP; Article 30(1) EP; Article 30(2) EP; Article 30(3) EP

  1. To strengthen interoperability provision

Interoperability is an efficient way to achieve contestability and choice for end-users on markets that are subject to high barriers to entry and lock-in. Mandatory interoperability gatekeepers bear the potential to open markets or facilitate the creation of completely new ones and to incentivise innovation. In addition, it empowers end-users to provide more alternatives with regards to services as essential as, for example, their communication channels. Finally, it dilutes the enormous power that a few gatekeepers have over end-users, as it diminishes the possibility that the latter remains locked in.

For these reasons, we support:

Article 6(1)(f) EP; Article 6(1) f a (new) EP; Article 24(1b) EP

  1. To enhance the transparency in profiling

Requiring internal audits about how automated systems (especially automated decision-making systems) are used by companies, including about how they work and which criteria are used to set them, is a basic and necessary step towards greater accountability. Transparency can help rebalance the asymmetry of information among gatekeepers, other players, and end-users. However, we find that the scope of the audit mandated in Article 13 of the DMA proposal is too narrow and leaves too much room for manoeuvre to the gatekeepers.

For this reason, we support:

Article 13(1) EP

PDF version of our full recommendations

  1. To strengthen end-users’ freedom to choose their services

A common instrument that gatekeepers have to shield themselves from inter and intra-platform competition is to bundle services and offer them as a single package to end-users. The DMA contains provisions that tackle bundling, among others by imposing interoperability requirements, but they fail to go as far as needed. For example, we believe that end-users should not be required to subscribe to or register with any other core platform services as a condition for being able to use, access, sign up for or register with any other of their core platform services. In addition, we recommend that when using any pre-installed core platform service on an operating system, end-users are prompted to change the default settings for that core platform service to another option from among a list of the main third-party services available. End-users should be also allowed and be technically enabled to uninstall pre-installed software applications on a core platform.

For these reasons, we support:

Article 5(1f) EP; Article 5(1gb) EP


PDF version of our recommendations