Amid ongoing debate around the importance of digital privacy, and who controls and uses our personal data for various purpose, the EU continues to lead the way with the most advanced regulation in the space. Some of that has been hugely beneficial, while some has become a hindrance in many respects. But right now, European officials are clearly enacting the biggest shifts in the broader digital privacy space.
And it looks like it’s about to force a move once again.
Today, the European Union reached provisional agreement on the new ‘Digital Markets Act’, which, among various elements, will seek to impose restrictions on how user data can be shared, while it also aims to dilute the dominance of the big tech players by enforcing more open access.
As explained by Politico:
“The new rules for so-called ‘gatekeeper platforms’, derived from years of antitrust enforcement in the digital economy, include restrictions on combining personal data from different sources, mandates to allow users to install apps from third-party platforms, prohibitions on bundling services, and a prohibition on self-preferencing practices.”
Apple, in particular, has come under scrutiny over the last point, with evidence suggesting that it’s recent ATT update, which prompts users to opt-in to app data tracking, actually ends up benefitting Apple’s own ad products, because it’s now able to collect more user data than those utilizing its platform.
In addition to this, the Digital Markets Act would also impose new interoperability requirements for messaging platforms, meaning that you’d theoretically be able to share messages between various messaging platforms freely.
“Parliament also succeeded in convincing the Council of interoperability requirements for messaging services, meaning outfits such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or iMessage will have to open up and interoperate with smaller messaging platforms. For group chats, this requirement will be rolled out over a period of four years.”
That presents a range of potential implications – for privacy, digital advertising, outreach, and more.
The actual process of making this happen would take time to work through, but it could lead to a big shift in the messaging landscape, aside from the broader implications.
A key part of the proposal aims to also eliminate what the EU is calling ‘killer acquisitions’:
“The Commission might prohibit gatekeepers from engaging on acquisitions in the areas relevant to this regulation, such as digital or to the use of data related sectors e.g. gaming, research institutes, consumer goods, fitness devices, health tracking financial services, and for a limited period of time where this is necessary and proportionate to undue the damage caused by repeated infringements or to prevent further damage to the contestability and fairness of the internal market.”
It is also worth noting that the scope of the legislation is fairly specific, in aiming at the big players:
“To qualify as a ‘gatekeeper’, companies would also need to provide a core platform service in at least three EU countries and have at least 45 million monthly end users, as well as more than 10 000 business users. A list of indicators to be used by the providers of core platforms services when measuring monthly end users and yearly business users should be provided in an Annex to the proposed Regulation.”
Very few platforms are ever going to reach that scale, but for those that are already operating at those numbers, it could mean big changes are coming, in likely the biggest upheaval since the implementation of the GDPR in 2018.
Penalties for breaches of the new rules could reach up to 10% of a company’s annual worldwide turnover, and could go even further in the case of repeated infringements.
It’s a wide-reaching bill, which still faces some potential challenges as yet. But it has passed the first major hurdle – and while these updates would technically only apply to EU citizens, if it is enacted, there will be implementations for all platforms in all regions.
We’ll keep you up to date on any progress.
Parler Announces That it’s Terminated its Acquisition Deal with Kanye West
Kanye West will not follow in Elon Musk’s footsteps and buy his own social media platform, with Parler confirming today that it has ended negotiations with West on a possible sale of the app.
In response to numerous media inquiries, Parlement Technologies would like to confirm that the company has mutually agreed with Ye to terminate the intent of sale of Parler. This decision was made in the interest of both parties in mid-November.
— Parler (@parler_app) December 1, 2022
The reasoning behind the decision is not clear, but West has continued to share his controversial opinions in various media opportunities of late, which has resulted in him losing a range of sponsor and partnership deals, and has decimated his net worth.
Axios has reported that West’s financial situation, as a result of these impacts, has played at least some role in the dissolution of the Parler deal.
West originally announced his intention to acquire Parler back in October, saying at the time that he needed to buy his own platform in order to share his unfiltered opinions with the world.
“People had talked about it and mentioned this idea for years, but enough was enough.”
In the weeks leading up to that announcement, West had been suspended from both Instagram and Twitter after deliberately pushing his limits on both by sharing offensive, anti-Semitic remarks. That then led West to Parler, and with Elon Musk moving to take over at Twitter, West saw an opportunity to also play a part in what he saw as a broader shift towards allowing more free and open speech.
But now, West is moving on – though he will continue with his 2024 Presidential run, apparently.
West has also seemingly pinned his hopes on Musk for a future reformation of social media moderation rules.
I love the first amendment! Long live Ye! I pray to Jesus that Elon is for real…
— ye (@kanyewest) December 1, 2022
At least, I think that’s what this means.
The announcement leaves Parler in a less than certain predicament, as it continues its efforts to develop a more sustainable business model in order to maintain operation as a free speech platform.
In the wake of the Capitol Riots, Parler was almost killed off entirely when both Apple and Google removed the app from their respective stores due its lax moderation policies, which they said had allowed too many posts that encouraged violence and crime. Amazon then also refused to host Parler on its web-hosting service due to repeated violations of its rules.
Parler was eventually able to save itself by rolling out additional moderation rules, in alignment with the requirements of each platform, which subsequently caused a level of angst among its core user base. Parler has since been found to be censoring certain posts, and removing certain users, which has prompted further criticism of the app, and with Elon taking over at Twitter, and promising a more open approach to what can be shared via tweet, it seems like Parler’s days could indeed be numbered, especially if Musk is able to implement a significant change in Twitter’s approach.
Which will also be challenging. Just as Parler had to change its moderation approach in line with app store policies, Twitter will also have to maintain its processes on the same, which could impede Musk’s push to enable more free and open speech in the app.
Elon’s looking to challenge this, but again, there will always be a level of moderation required, which will likely always exceed what free speech advocates would prefer, given evolving rules in Europe and other regions.
And for Kanye, it seems like his ambitions for owning his own social platform are now shelved, at least for the time being.