Europe and the tech giants: how legislation is starting to catch up with reality

Blog  — Fri 7 Jul 2023

Technology is advancing rapidly, while legislation is catching up at a slightly slower pace. Nevertheless, Europe is working hard to keep up with it. For instance, Europe is the first to introduce legislation regarding artificial intelligence, and is working on legislation for so-called 'gatekeepers', which refers to major tech companies.

DSA - Supervising the giants

This abbreviation might not be heard on every street corner: the 'Digital Services Act' (DSA). However, the DSA, being a law, has an important task. To sum it up, I would like to quote the following:

"For far too long, tech giants have benefited from a lack of rules. The digital world has evolved into a Wild West, where the biggest and strongest determine the rules. But now, there's a new sheriff in town - the DSA. Rules and rights will now be strengthened."

That's what Christel Schaldemose (S&D, Denmark) wrote about the law on digital services. She is a prominent member of the European Parliament concerning digital services legislation.

Europe, like vigilant citizens, has noticed that a few online giants dominate the market, the global market. Although these giants are primarily North American, it's important to critically examine each giant. Their dominant position brings influence, and that influence doesn't always benefit the average user.

The Digital Services Act (DSA) came into effect on November 16, 2022. On February 17, 2024, this legislation will apply across the entire EU. On April 25, 2023, the European Commission has already designated the first group of major platforms that will fall under this new legislation. So, we are on the eve of this change.

DMA - Freedom for the end user

But that's not all. There's also the DMA, the 'Digital Markets Act'. It came into effect on November 1, 2022, and since May 2, 2023, active supervision of its rules has been in place. However, we still have to wait a bit because it's only on September 6, 2023, that the European Commission will designate gatekeepers who must comply with the DMA. They will then have a maximum of six months to get started with it. So, the new obligations of the DMA will apply to them by March 2024 at the latest.

The EU's pace regarding AI

Meanwhile, the EU continues to work on new legislation regarding artificial intelligence, as seen in this statement of intent. On October 20, 2020, the EU received three advisory reports. The goal is not to hinder innovation but at the same time ensure ethical standards and trust. This makes sense given the growing use of AI, which is becoming more integrated into various digital services and products. This brings responsibilities, such as safeguarding privacy. The EU has the GDPR, also known as the AVG in the Netherlands, for good reason.

What does it mean for me concretely?

As a technician, technological entrepreneur, and European citizen, I am immensely pleased with these developments. They will ensure that our rights are respected, including the right to privacy. Additionally, they will maintain a level playing field, allowing smaller players to have a fair chance at growth without being squeezed out by the giants. But perhaps most importantly, this will keep innovation possible.

A good example of this is smartphones. Stores are filled with different models, but eventually, you often end up with Apple iOS or Google Android. Both are North American companies that don't necessarily prioritize the user. Thanks to this new EU legislation, there will be room for other options. I, for one, am looking forward to the breakthrough of a large-scale smartphone with Linux, not like Google used Linux for Android, but truly Linux, like, for example, the Librem by Purism.

It's also great to hear that starting from September 2023, Apple smartphones will finally have a USB-C port due to other European legislation. This prevents unnecessary waste, costs, and inconvenience. This is how European legislation helps the consumer.