Chapter III – Practices of Gatekeepers that limit contestability or are unfair (Art. 5-15)
Art. 5 DMA - Obligations for gatekeepers
- The gatekeeper shall comply with all obligations set out in this Article with respect to each of its core platform services listed in the designation decision pursuant to Article 3(9).
- The gatekeeper shall not do any of the following:
- process, for the purpose of providing online advertising services, personal data of end users using services of third parties that make use of core platform services of the gatekeeper;
- combine personal data from the relevant core platform service with personal data from any further core platform services or from any other services provided by the gatekeeper or with personal data from third-party services;
- cross-use personal data from the relevant core platform service in other services provided separately by the gatekeeper, including other core platform services, and vice versa; and
- sign in end users to other services of the gatekeeper in order to combine personal data,
unless the end user has been presented with the specific choice and has given consent within the meaning of Article 4, point (11), and Article 7 of Regulation (EU) 2016/679.
Where the consent given for the purposes of the first subparagraph has been refused or withdrawn by the end user, the gatekeeper shall not repeat its request for consent for the same purpose more than once within a period of one year.
This paragraph is without prejudice to the possibility for the gatekeeper to rely on Article 6(1), points (c), (d) and (e) of Regulation (EU) 2016/679, where applicable.
- The gatekeeper shall not prevent business users from offering the same products or services to end users through third-party online intermediation services or through their own direct online sales channel at prices or conditions that are different from those offered through the online intermediation services of the gatekeeper.
- The gatekeeper shall allow business users, free of charge, to communicate and promote offers, including under different conditions, to end users acquired via its core platform service or through other channels, and to conclude contracts with those end users, regardless of whether, for that purpose, they use the core platform services of the gatekeeper.
- The gatekeeper shall allow end users to access and use, through its core platform services, content, subscriptions, features or other items, by using the software application of a business user, including where those end users acquired such items from the relevant business user without using the core platform services of the gatekeeper.
- The gatekeeper shall not require end users to use, or business users to use, to offer, or to interoperate with, an identification service, a web browser engine or a payment service, or technical services that support the provision of payment services, such as payment systems for in-app purchases, of that gatekeeper in the context of services provided by the business users using that gatekeeper’s core platform services.
- The gatekeeper shall not require business users or end users to subscribe to, or register with, any further core platform services listed in the designation decision pursuant to Article 3(9) or which meet the thresholds in Article 3(2), point (b), as a condition for being able to use, access, sign up for or registering with any of that gatekeeper’s core platform services listed pursuant to that Article.
- The gatekeeper shall provide each advertiser to which it supplies online advertising services, or third parties authorised by advertisers, upon the advertiser’s request, with information on a daily basis free of charge, concerning each advertisement placed by the advertiser, regarding:
- the price and fees paid by that advertiser, including any deductions and surcharges, for each of the relevant online advertising services provided by the gatekeeper,
- the remuneration received by the publisher, including any deductions and surcharges, subject to the publisher’s consent; and
- the metrics on which each of the prices, fees and remunerations are calculated.
In the event that a publisher does not consent to the sharing of information regarding the remuneration received, as referred to in point (b) of the first subparagraph, the gatekeeper shall provide each advertiser free of charge with information concerning the daily average remuneration received by that publisher, including any deductions and surcharges, for the relevant advertisements.
- The gatekeeper shall provide each publisher to which it supplies online advertising services, or third parties authorised by publishers, upon the publisher’s request, with free of charge information on a daily basis, concerning each advertisement displayed on the publisher’s inventory, regarding:
- the remuneration received and the fees paid by that publisher, including any deductions and surcharges, for each of the relevant online advertising services provided by the gatekeeper;
- the price paid by the advertiser, including any deductions and surcharges, subject to the advertiser’s consent; and
- the metrics on which each of the prices and remunerations are calculated.
In the event an advertiser does not consent to the sharing of information, the gatekeeper shall provide each publisher free of charge with information concerning the daily average price paid by that advertiser, including any deductions and surcharges, for the relevant advertisements.
To safeguard the contestability and fairness of core platform services provided by gatekeepers, it is necessary to provide in a clear and unambiguous manner for a set of harmonised rules with regard to those services. Such rules are needed to address the risk of harmful effects of practices by gatekeepers, to the benefit of the business environment in the services concerned, of users and ultimately of society as a whole. The obligations correspond to those practices that are considered as undermining contestability or as being unfair, or both, when taking into account the features of the digital sector and which have a particularly negative direct impact on business users and end users. It should be possible for the obligations laid down by this Regulation to specifically take into account the nature of the core platform services provided. The obligations in this Regulation should not only ensure contestability and fairness with respect to core platform services listed in the designation decision, but also with respect to other digital products and services into which gatekeepers leverage their gateway position, which are often provided together with, or in support of, the core platform services.
For the purpose of this Regulation, contestability should relate to the ability of undertakings to effectively overcome barriers to entry and expansion and challenge the gatekeeper on the merits of their products and services. The features of core platform services in the digital sector, such as network effects, strong economies of scale, and benefits from data have limited the contestability of those services and the related ecosystems. Such a weak contestability reduces the incentives to innovate and improve products and services for the gatekeeper, its business users, its challengers and customers and thus negatively affects the innovation potential of the wider online platform economy. Contestability of the services in the digital sector can also be limited if there is more than one gatekeeper for a core platform service. This Regulation should therefore ban certain practices by gatekeepers that are liable to increase barriers to entry or expansion, and impose certain obligations on gatekeepers that tend to lower those barriers. The obligations should also address situations where the position of the gatekeeper may be entrenched to such an extent that inter-platform competition is not effective in the short term, meaning that intra-platform competition needs to be created or increased.
For the purpose of this Regulation, unfairness should relate to an imbalance between the rights and obligations of business users where the gatekeeper obtains a disproportionate advantage. Market participants, including business users of core platform services and alternative providers of services provided together with, or in support of, such core platform services, should have the ability to adequately capture the benefits resulting from their innovative or other efforts. Due to their gateway position and superior bargaining power, it is possible that gatekeepers engage in behaviour that does not allow others to capture fully the benefits of their own contributions, and unilaterally set unbalanced conditions for the use of their core platform services or services provided together with, or in support of, their core platform services. Such imbalance is not excluded by the fact that the gatekeeper offers a particular service free of charge to a specific group of users, and may also consist in excluding or discriminating against business users, in particular if the latter compete with the services provided by the gatekeeper. This Regulation should therefore impose obligations on gatekeepers addressing such behaviour.
Contestability and fairness are intertwined. The lack of, or weak, contestability for a certain service can enable a gatekeeper to engage in unfair practices. Similarly, unfair practices by a gatekeeper can reduce the possibility of business users or others to contest the gatekeeper’s position. A particular obligation in this Regulation may, therefore, address both elements.
The obligations laid down in this Regulation are therefore necessary to address identified public policy concerns, there being no alternative and less restrictive measures that would effectively achieve the same result, having regard to the need to safeguard public order, protect privacy and fight fraudulent and deceptive commercial practices.
Gatekeepers often directly collect personal data of end users for the purpose of providing online advertising services when end users use third-party websites and software applications. Third parties also provide gatekeepers with personal data of their end users in order to make use of certain services provided by the gatekeepers in the context of their core platform services, such as custom audiences. The processing, for the purpose of providing online advertising services, of personal data from third parties using core platform services gives gatekeepers potential advantages in terms of accumulation of data, thereby raising barriers to entry. This is because gatekeepers process personal data from a significantly larger number of third parties than other undertakings. Similar advantages result from the conduct of (i) combining end user personal data collected from a core platform service with data collected from other services; (ii) cross-using personal data from a core platform service in other services provided separately by the gatekeeper, notably services which are not provided together with, or in support of, the relevant core platform service, and vice versa; or (iii) signing-in end users to different services of gatekeepers in order to combine personal data. To ensure that gatekeepers do not unfairly undermine the contestability of core platform services, gatekeepers should enable end users to freely choose to opt-in to such data processing and sign-in practices by offering a less personalised but equivalent alternative, and without making the use of the core platform service or certain functionalities thereof conditional upon the end user’s consent. This should be without prejudice to the gatekeeper processing personal data or signing in end users to a service, relying on the legal basis under Article 6(1), points (c), (d) and (e), of Regulation (EU) 2016/679, but not on Article 6(1), points (b) and (f) of that Regulation.
The less personalised alternative should not be different or of degraded quality compared to the service provided to the end users who provide consent, unless a degradation of quality is a direct consequence of the gatekeeper not being able to process such personal data or signing in end users to a service. Not giving consent should not be more difficult than giving consent. When the gatekeeper requests consent, it should proactively present a user-friendly solution to the end user to provide, modify or withdraw consent in an explicit, clear and straightforward manner. In particular, consent should be given by a clear affirmative action or statement establishing a freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of agreement by the end user, as defined in Regulation (EU) 2016/679. At the time of giving consent, and only where applicable, the end user should be informed that not giving consent can lead to a less personalised offer, but that otherwise the core platform service will remain unchanged and that no functionalities will be suppressed. Exceptionally, if consent cannot be given directly to the gatekeeper’s core platform service, end users should be able to give consent through each third-party service that makes use of that core platform service, to allow the gatekeeper to process personal data for the purposes of providing online advertising services.
Lastly, it should be as easy to withdraw consent as to give it. Gatekeepers should not design, organise or operate their online interfaces in a way that deceives, manipulates or otherwise materially distorts or impairs the ability of end users to freely give consent. In particular, gatekeepers should not be allowed to prompt end users more than once a year to give consent for the same processing purpose in respect of which they initially did not give consent or withdrew their consent. This Regulation is without prejudice to Regulation (EU) 2016/679, including its enforcement framework, which remains fully applicable with respect to any claims by data subjects relating to an infringement of their rights under that Regulation.
Children merit specific protection with regard to their personal data, in particular as regards the use of their personal data for the purposes of commercial communication or creating user profiles. The protection of children online is an important objective of the Union and should be reflected in the relevant Union law. In this context, due regard should be given to a Regulation on a single market for digital services. Nothing in this Regulation exempts gatekeepers from the obligation to protect children laid down in applicable Union law.
In certain cases, for instance through the imposition of contractual terms and conditions, gatekeepers can restrict the ability of business users of their online intermediation services to offer products or services to end users under more favourable conditions, including price, through other online intermediation services or through direct online sales channels. Where such restrictions relate to third-party online intermediation services, they limit inter-platform contestability, which in turn limits choice of alternative online intermediation services for end users. Where such restrictions relate to direct online sales channels, they unfairly limit the freedom of business users to use such channels. To ensure that business users of online intermediation services of gatekeepers can freely choose alternative online intermediation services or direct online sales channels and differentiate the conditions under which they offer their products or services to end users, it should not be accepted that gatekeepers limit business users from choosing to differentiate commercial conditions, including price. Such a restriction should apply to any measure with equivalent effect, such as increased commission rates or de-listing of the offers of business users.
To prevent further reinforcing their dependence on the core platform services of gatekeepers, and in order to promote multi-homing, the business users of those gatekeepers should be free to promote and choose the distribution channel that they consider most appropriate for the purpose of interacting with any end users that those business users have already acquired through core platform services provided by the gatekeeper or through other channels. This should apply to the promotion of offers, including through a software application of the business user, and any form of communication and conclusion of contracts between business users and end users. An acquired end user is an end user who has already entered into a commercial relationship with the business user and, where applicable, the gatekeeper has been directly or indirectly remunerated by the business user for facilitating the initial acquisition of the end user by the business user. Such commercial relationships can be on either a paid or a free basis, such as free trials or free service tiers, and can have been entered into either on the core platform service of the gatekeeper or through any other channel. Conversely, end users should also be free to choose offers of such business users and to enter into contracts with them either through core platform services of the gatekeeper, if applicable, or from a direct distribution channel of the business user or another indirect channel that such business user uses.
The ability of end users to acquire content, subscriptions, features or other items outside the core platform services of the gatekeeper should not be undermined or restricted. In particular, a situation should be avoided whereby gatekeepers restrict end users from access to, and use of, such services via a software application running on their core platform service. For example, subscribers to online content purchased outside a software application, software application store or virtual assistant should not be prevented from accessing such online content on a software application on the core platform service of the gatekeeper simply because it was purchased outside such software application, software application store or virtual assistant.
Certain services provided together with, or in support of, relevant core platform services of the gatekeeper, such as identification services, web browser engines, payment services or technical services that support the provision of payment services, such as payment systems for in-app purchases, are crucial for business users to conduct their business and allow them to optimise services. In particular, each browser is built on a web browser engine, which is responsible for key browser functionality such as speed, reliability and web compatibility. When gatekeepers operate and impose web browser engines, they are in a position to determine the functionality and standards that will apply not only to their own web browsers, but also to competing web browsers and, in turn, to web software applications. Gatekeepers should therefore not use their position to require their dependent business users to use any of the services provided together with, or in support of, core platform services by the gatekeeper itself as part of the provision of services or products by those business users. In order to avoid a situation in which gatekeepers indirectly impose on business users their own services provided together with, or in support of, core platform services, gatekeepers should also be prohibited from requiring end users to use such services, when that requirement would be imposed in the context of the service provided to end users by the business user using the core platform service of the gatekeeper. That prohibition aims to protect the freedom of the business user to choose alternative services to the ones of the gatekeeper, but should not be construed as obliging the business user to offer such alternatives to its end users.
The conduct of requiring business users or end users to subscribe to, or register with, any other core platform services of gatekeepers listed in the designation decision or which meet the thresholds of active end users and business users set out in this Regulation, as a condition for using, accessing, signing up for or registering with a core platform service gives the gatekeepers a means of capturing and locking-in new business users and end users for their core platform services by ensuring that business users cannot access one core platform service without also at least registering or creating an account for the purposes of receiving a second core platform service. That conduct also gives gatekeepers a potential advantage in terms of accumulation of data. As such, this conduct is liable to raise barriers to entry and should be prohibited.
The conditions under which gatekeepers provide online advertising services to business users, including both advertisers and publishers, are often non-transparent and opaque. This opacity is partly linked to the practices of a few platforms, but is also due to the sheer complexity of modern day programmatic advertising. That sector is considered to have become less transparent after the introduction of new privacy legislation. This often leads to a lack of information and knowledge for advertisers and publishers about the conditions of the online advertising services they purchase and undermines their ability to switch between undertakings providing online advertising services. Furthermore, the costs of online advertising services under these conditions are likely to be higher than they would be in a fairer, more transparent and contestable platform environment. Those higher costs are likely to be reflected in the prices that end users pay for many daily products and services relying on the use of online advertising services. Transparency obligations should therefore require gatekeepers to provide advertisers and publishers to whom they supply online advertising services, when requested, with free of charge information that allows both sides to understand the price paid for each of the different online advertising services provided as part of the relevant advertising value chain.
This information should be provided, upon request, to an advertiser at the level of an individual advertisement in relation to the price and fees charged to that advertiser and, subject to an agreement by the publisher owning the inventory where the advertisement is displayed, the remuneration received by that consenting publisher. The provision of this information on a daily basis will allow advertisers to receive information that has a sufficient level of granularity necessary to compare the costs of using the online advertising services of gatekeepers with the costs of using online advertising services of alternative undertakings. Where some publishers do not provide their consent to the sharing of the relevant information with the advertiser, the gatekeeper should provide the advertiser with the information about the daily average remuneration received by those publishers for the relevant advertisements. The same obligation and principles of sharing the relevant information concerning the provision of online advertising services should apply in respect of requests by publishers. Since gatekeepers can use different pricing models for the provision of online advertising services to advertisers and publishers, for instance a price per impression, per view or any other criterion, gatekeepers should also provide the method with which each of the prices and remunerations are calculated.