A critical look at the DMA

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) introduces several wrongheaded notions. It would hamstring market leaders and reward laggards. The proposal could seriously set back innovation in Europe.

Opinion: A critical look at the Digital Markets Act (source: GIS)
Opinion: A critical look at the Digital Markets Act (source: GIS)

According to the European Commission, a unique type of firm exerts tremendous control over most digital business models. These behemoths, called “gatekeepers,” organize access and manage upstream and downstream businesses, just as trusts did in their day. Like trusts, these digital companies could bar any noncompliant business from using the internet, stifling competition and economic freedom. For all these reasons, the Commission felt compelled to propose a new regulation, the Digital Markets Act, or DMA.

As of this writing, the DMA remains only a proposal. It still needs consultation and political approval. However, in the EU, such legislation is often passed with few amendments. It is styled as a separate and complementary tool for competition enforcers, introducing new policy objectives of “fairness and contestability.”

The DMA introduces the notions of “digital sector” and “gatekeeper.” While the very idea of a “digital sector” is already difficult to grasp, the concept of “gatekeepers” is altogether foreign to antitrust practices. The DMA describes them as “structuring elements” of the digital economy that enjoy an entrenched position in providing intermediation services. Network effects help make users (businesses and individuals alike) dependent on these gatekeepers. According to the DMA, this dependence allows them to engage in unfair practices and harm consumer welfare. Therefore, gatekeepers have a major impact on digital markets and require oversight …

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Opinion: A critical look at the Digital Markets Act

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