EU confirms the Digital Markets Act does not apply to iMessage


Nothing Chats iMessage

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) is a landmark regulation in the European Union. It is designed to ensure fair and open digital markets by addressing the power of large digital platforms. According to Bloomberg, after a probe by the regulatory agency, the European Union confirmed that Apple’s iMessage is not subject to the Digital Markets Act (DMA). The reason it gave for this decision is that Europeans use WhatsApp more than iMessage.

iOS 17 iMessage
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According to the EU, the investigation concluded that the iMessage platform and Microsoft’s Bing did not hold a sufficiently dominant position to meet the DMA’s requirements for the so-called digital “gatekeepers” of big tech companies, including Apple, Meta, Google, Amazon and TikTok’s strict rules. Apple and Microsoft expressed support for the decision.

In theory, DMA interoperability rules mean that apps like WhatsApp or Messenger can require data exchange with Apple’s iMessage. Apple must comply with this rule if it wants to continue operating within the EU. However, the latest EU investigation excludes iMessage from the DMA. With the promulgation of the DMA, Apple recently updated its support documentation and announced that developers in the EU can add third-party app stores to App Store Connect.

The Digital Markets Act

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) is a legislative proposal by the European Commission aimed at ensuring fair and open digital markets. It focuses on regulating large online platforms, known as “gatekeepers,” to prevent them from engaging in unfair practices. The DMA establishes objective criteria to qualify a platform as a gatekeeper, such as having a strong economic position, a significant impact on the internal market, and being active in multiple EU countries. Once designated as gatekeepers, these platforms are subject to a set of obligations and restrictions to ensure fair competition, innovation, and consumer choice.

SMS and iMessage

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The DMA’s key benefits include creating a fairer environment for business users, providing new opportunities for innovators and startups to compete, and offering consumers more choices, better services, and fairer prices. To keep pace with the fast-evolving digital sector, the Commission will conduct market investigations, qualify companies as gatekeepers, and update the obligations for gatekeepers when necessary. Non-compliance with the DMA can result in significant fines and other remedies. This includes periodic penalty payments and, as a last resort, non-financial remedies such as divestiture of business parts.

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The DMA is designed to address the unique characteristics of digital markets. It tries to prevent unfair practices by gatekeepers, ultimately promoting innovation and fair competition. It aims to create a level playing field for all businesses, including smaller players, and enhance consumer choice and protection. The DMA is part of the European Union’s broader digital strategy and is intended to complement existing competition law.

iMessage and the DMA

The DMA does not apply to iMessage, as it does not meet the criteria for designation as a gatekeeper. To be designated as a gatekeeper, a platform must have a strong economic position. It must also have a significant impact on the internal market and a strong intermediation position. Apple’s iMessage does not meet these criteria, as it does not have a significant market share in the EU. Also, it does not provide a core platform service that meets the DMA’s thresholds.

DMA’s Impact on Messaging Services

While iMessage is not subject to the DMA, other messaging services may be. For example, WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram could be considered gatekeepers if they meet the DMA’s criteria. The DMA aims to ensure that these platforms do not abuse their market power and that they provide fair and open access to their services.

iMessage

Conclusion

The DMA is a significant regulatory framework that aims to ensure fair and open digital markets. However, iMessage is not subject to the DMA, as it does not meet the criteria for designation as a gatekeeper. Other messaging services may be subject to the DMA, depending on their market position and the services they provide. The DMA is part of a broader effort to create a fair and competitive digital environment in the EU.

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