Big Tech prepares for the Digital Markets Act

Aušra Mažutavičienė
Written by
Aušra Mažutavičienė
February 15, 2024

Big Tech companies such as Meta and Google have until the beginning of March to comply with the provisions of the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA).

Among other things, they must allow users to sign up to a single service without automatically linking it to another. Meta, for example, would have to allow people to use Facebook Messenger without automatically being forced to create a Facebook account.

In this blog post, Meta states that it “over the next few weeks” will be sending notifications to users in the EU, offering them more choice over how Meta's services can be used — including the option to block Meta from transferring data between Facebook and Instagram.

That's huge!

Restricting Meta’s ability to carry out cross-site data tracking and profiling effectively removes a key motivating factor behind their purchase of Instagram in the first place.

However in reality, the consequences of separating accounts may prevent many users from doing so as opting out of cross-platform data sharing will likely mean a loss of useful features (e.g. being able to send messages directly from Facebook).

Furthermore, users' consent to link accounts should meet the requirements of the GDPR that a valid consent must be informed, specific and freely given. It remains to be seen whether a choice where useful features are removed unless cross-platform data sharing is agreed to will meet the requirement for "freely given" consent.

Regulators are still assessing Meta’s latest attempt to comply with the GDPR by introducing the “Pay or OK” model (where users in the EU were offered a ‘free choice' between allowing targeted advertising or paying a monthly subscription to opt-out).

Data protection authorities from the Netherlands, Norway and Germany are currently challenging the “Pay or OK” model and its compliance with the GDPR and are requesting the European Data Protection Board to take a formal position.

However, these doubts about legality haven’t refrained Meta from forcing the choice on its EU users in the meantime.

Let's see how this evolves. We'll keep you posted!