Top 30 questions about the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA)
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Digital Markets Act uncovered: top 30 DMA questions answered

We provide answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Digital Markets Act (DMA). Gain insights into the latest regulatory measures and discover how they are shaping the digital landscape and impacting businesses.
by Usercentrics
Apr 18, 2024
Top 30 questions about the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA)
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The Digital Markets Act (DMA) is a landmark regulation introduced by the European Commission (EC) to regulate digital markets and ensure fair competition among tech giants and smaller entities using their platforms and services.


Whether you’re a business owner, marketer, web manager, or legal professional, addressing key DMA questions and requirements is crucial to ensure compliance and maintain access to essential platforms and services.


Data privacy is complex and ever-evolving, which can be challenging, especially for smaller organizations without dedicated legal or compliance resources. By answering these Digital Markets Act FAQs, our goal is to simplify the education and compliance process, providing the clarity and guidance you need to navigate the legislation’s complexities with confidence.

1. What is the Digital Markets Act (DMA)?

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) is a regulatory framework introduced by the EU’s commission to regulate digital markets and address challenges to data privacy and the dominance of online tech giants.


The law aims to ensure fair competition, enhance consumer protection, and promote innovation in the digital ecosystem.


The DMA impacts how large online platforms—and the smaller third parties that use their services—handle user consent and data.


Collen Clark, lawyer and founder of Schmidt & Clark LLP, explains: “The DMA is designed to regulate digital gatekeepers—large online platforms that have a substantial impact on the market. These gatekeepers, often associated with major technology corporations, wield considerable market power and control key access points for businesses and consumers.”

2. Why was the DMA regulation introduced?

The EC introduced the DMA law in response to growing concerns about the power of dominant tech enterprises that have enormous global reach via their digital platforms.


The law reflects the EU’s commitment to addressing the challenges posed by the digital economy in the 21st century. These companies have a significant and growing impact on competition, innovation, and consumer welfare.

The DMA’s role is to regulate the digital market, encourage competition, and protect privacy while ensuring the ecosystem operates in a way that is fair and beneficial to both businesses and consumers in the EU. Collen Clark explains:


“The DMA aims to address the challenges posed by these digital gatekeepers and level the playing field for all. However, it is important to note that the DMA may increase regulatory fragmentation and impose broad obligations that may be economically harmful and legally contentious.”

3. What does the DMA aim to achieve?

The DMA has three main objectives:

  • Fostering competition in digital markets
  • Address unfair practices by the tech giants that control large online platforms.
  • Safeguard the interests of smaller businesses and consumers.

By imposing specific obligations on the tech enterprises that currently dominate the market—referred to as “gatekeepers” in the DMA—the law creates a more transparent, competitive, and user-centric digital commercial environment.

4. Who does the Digital Markets Act apply to?

The DMA directly applies to companies operating large online platforms that meet specific criteria, such as:

  • having a significant impact on digital markets
  • acting as intermediaries between businesses and users
  • enjoying a durable position of market power with significant influence over innovation

These platforms face scrutiny and regulation under the DMA.



Although the DMA specifically applies to these gatekeepers, it also impacts how other businesses use their digital platforms, apps, and services. All business owners are responsible for complying with DMA-inspired rules imposed by digital services such as Google and Amazon.

5. What are the key provisions of the DMA?

The DMA includes several key provisions that require gatekeeper platforms to:

  • refrain from unfair or anti-competitive practices
  • provide access to data collected on or generated by their platforms
  • ensure interoperability
  • avoid preferential treatment of their own or specific partners’ functionality or services

The DMA also established a Digital Markets Unit (DMU) to monitor and enforce compliance with the law. This entity has the power to impose fines and other consequences for noncompliance.

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6. How does the DMA impact digital platforms?

Given its scope, the DMA significantly impacts how businesses and consumers use and interact with digital platforms and their respective applications. Here are the most notable effects:

  • When advertising on gatekeeper platforms, businesses have more control over creative execution; that said, they also need to follow stricter rules regarding personal data use and are prohibited from retargeting minors.
  • Gatekeepers have established new rules for business users of their platforms, in line with DMA requirements. Failure to adhere can lead to account suspension or removal, which can be a huge blow to smaller companies that rely on platforms like Google for their lead generation.
  • Users need to be able to send and receive messages across different gatekeeper messaging apps. For instance, messages sent from Messenger should be receivable via Signal or WhatsApp, and vice versa.
  • Users must be able to uninstall preloaded applications from their devices, without being forced into using specific services from a single ecosystem. Users should also be able to remove native apps quickly and easily.

Collen Clark explains: “The DMA introduces limitations and obligations on online platforms that process personal data for digital advertising. Gatekeepers, for example, must obtain consent before processing personal data for certain purposes, such as online advertising or combining personal data from multiple online services.


“Additionally, gatekeepers must provide free and daily information to publishers and advertisers about the costs associated with a relevant ad. This aims to create a more competitive and innovative digital ecosystem.”

7. What are Google's privacy requirements for its customers under the DMA?

As one of the six gatekeepers regulated under the DMA, Google established new privacy regulations in March of 2024, together with an enforcement of its EU user consent policy.


Any company that uses the Google suite of products, including Google Ads and Google Analytics, must use the latest iteration of Google Consent Mode (GCM) together with a Google-certified CMP.


The updated GCM enables advertisers to signal user consent to Google for the purposes of personalized advertising.

8. Does the DMA create a level playing field for all market players?

The DMA safeguards fair access to the market, data, and users for smaller companies. In this way it aims to level the playing field and mitigate the advantage and disproportionate control of large online platforms.

The DMA requires gatekeepers to give companies access to the data collected from them: about their activities on the platforms and the technology driving them, like algorithms, as well as user-generated data.


This helps companies compete with the tech giants by ensuring access to the same insights. The DMA also requires gatekeepers to treat all companies that use their platforms equally. This prevents discrimination and gives smaller companies a fairer chance to compete in the digital market.

9. How does the Digital Markets Act address unfair practices by dominant platforms?

Gatekeepers are prohibited from engaging in practices that discourage competition — such as preferential promotion of their own products or services, leveraging user data, or getting in the way of interoperability.


The DMA empowers the DMU to enforce these provisions and take appropriate action against unfair practices.

10. What is the role of the Digital Markets Unit (DMU)?

The DMU is a regulatory body established under the DMA to monitor and enforce compliance with the regulation.


It holds the authority to investigate the gatekeepers and operations on their platforms, assess their market power, and impose fines and other remedies for noncompliance.

11. How does the DMU enforce the DMA?

The DMU enforces the DMA through a combination of investigative powers, monitoring mechanisms, and penalties for noncompliance.


It has the authority to request information from gatekeeper platforms in response to complaints and during investigations, and to then impose fines for noncompliance.

12. Can the DMA force gatekeepers to share data with competitors?

Yes, the DMA requires gatekeepers to provide access to certain types of data from their platforms to competitors and third-party companies using the platforms.


The exact scope and conditions for data sharing are subject to assessment by the DMU.

13. Has the DMA tightened merger control for digital platforms?

Yes, the DMA introduced stricter rules for mergers and acquisitions involving large digital players.


The EC now has the authority to examine and potentially stop these deals if they would result in monopolies that could harm competition or the interests of other businesses and consumers.


This means that the DMA helps to monitor and regulate the consolidation of market power.

14. How does the Digital Markets Act affect online advertising?

The DMA has a significant impact on online advertising. It contains specific obligations for gatekeepers’ platforms regarding the transparency and fairness of advertising services.


These platforms are required to provide advertisers with transparent access to data, fair terms, and nondiscriminatory operating conditions.

Moreover, the DMA restricts customer profiling, which is the practice of collecting and analyzing user data to create targeted advertising.


This restriction is intended to protect user privacy and prevent the abuse of personal data by gatekeepers, helping to ensure a more fair and transparent advertising ecosystem.


Collen Clarke explains: “On the innovation front, the DMA presents both opportunities and challenges. While it allows for more personalized product promotion on gatekeeper platforms, it also imposes stricter rules for the use of personal data in advertising, which may have an impact on marketing strategies and revenue for small businesses.”

15. Does the DMA increase transparency in online ranking algorithms?

Yes, the DMA requires gatekeepers to provide businesses using their platforms with clear and meaningful information about how their ranking algorithms function.


This will help businesses understand how their products or services are ranked and enable them to make more informed decisions regarding their online presence and marketing strategies.

16. What penalties can be imposed for noncompliance with the DMA?

Gatekeepers that fail to comply with the DMA can face significant penalties. The DMU has the authority to impose fines of up to 10% of a company’s global annual turnover.


Additionally, the DMU can impose behavioral and structural remedies, such as divestitures or operational changes, to address systemic competition issues and ensure compliance.

17. How is the DMA implemented across EU member states?

While the DMA sets the overarching regulatory framework, its implementation and enforcement across EU member states and in the UK are the responsibility of national authorities in each member state.


This helps to ensure consistent application of the DMA’s provisions while allowing for regional flexibility in application and enforcement.

18. Does the DMA harmonize digital market regulations across the EU?

Yes. The DMA establishes a single set of rules that apply uniformly to gatekeepers and the digital platforms operating in the EU.


This common regulatory framework replaced the former inconsistent patchwork of national regulations. However, certain aspects of implementation are still subject to national customization.

19. How does the Digital Markets Act impact innovation in digital markets?

While the DMA introduces stricter regulations for gatekeepers, it also recognizes the importance of innovation and allows for legitimate business practices that contribute to technological or commercial progress.


Fiona M. Scott Morton, Professor of Economics at the Yale University School of Management, believes the DMA will stimulate immense digital innovation by fostering competition in EU markets. For instance, rival app stores and payment systems are likely to appear, while developers have new tools and capabilities at their disposal.


The DMA also impacts innovation through increased transparency. Digital platforms are required to provide more information about their practices, algorithms, and data usage.


This transparency enables smaller players to better understand how they can improve their services and products, ultimately leading to more innovative offerings in the market and better user experiences. Plus, this increased transparency fosters trust among consumers, as they have more control over their data and better understand how it’s used and protected.

20. Does the DMA prevent large online platforms from self-preferencing?

Yes, the DMA prohibits gatekeepers from engaging in self-preferencing practices on their platforms.


Self-preferencing refers to the practice of promoting the platform’s own products or services over those of competitors. Gatekeeper platforms are required to ensure fair and nondiscriminatory treatment of their own offerings and those of third parties.

Yes, by imposing obligations and restrictions on the gatekeepers’ platforms and services and enhancing regulatory scrutiny, the DMA seeks to prevent the abuse of market power.


It ensures that no single platform or service provider dominates the market to the detriment of businesses, consumers, and overall market dynamics.

22. How does the DMA impact small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)?

While the primary focus of the DMA regulation is tech giants, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that use their platforms for sales and marketing are also affected.


Smaller companies must follow platform-specific privacy rules developed by gatekeepers to comply with the DMA. Additionally, the law’s data privacy requirements apply to all personal data collected on these platforms, whether directly by gatekeepers or by the third parties using them.


There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to compliance with the DMA and potential future laws. That said, businesses should look for platforms that replace outdated, intrusive methods with transparent tools for obtaining user consent, as well as tracking without cookies, a move to first-party databases, and context-based advertising.

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23. Does the DMA apply to large online platforms of non-European companies operating in the EU?

Yes, the DMA applies to online platforms of non-European companies operating in the EU, provided they meet the criteria of being a gatekeeper.


In fact, all six of the designated gatekeepers are headquartered outside of the EU. The DMA’s scope extends to all platforms that have a significant impact on the EU’s digital market, regardless of where they’re physically located. This ensures that all platforms operating in the EU adhere to the same standards and do not engage in unfair practices.


The requirements of the DMA also apply to platforms and services of non-European companies operating in the EU if they operate using the gatekeepers’ platforms and services and collect user data using them — even if they are not themselves designated as gatekeepers. These companies could also be quite large and be influential in digital markets.

24. Can the DMA be modified or updated in the future?

Yes, the DMA regulation can be modified or updated in the future to adapt to changing market dynamics and technological developments.


Many global data privacy laws have undergone multiple series of updates. As the digital landscape evolves, the DMA may undergo revisions to address emerging challenges and new power players to ensure its continued effectiveness.


This flexibility enables the regulation to remain relevant and responsive to technology, the regulatory landscape, and the market.

25. How does the Digital Markets Act differ from other competition laws?

While other laws tend to focus on general competition principles, the DMA contains sector-specific regulatory requirements and obligations for gatekeepers and their large online platforms.


It also supplements the EU’s antitrust law by including fair competition rules for specific digital players in Europe.

26. What criticism has the Digital Markets Act received?

“Some argue that the DMA’s blanket prohibitions on pro-competitive business practices will stifle economic growth and harm consumers’ welfare. Others believe that the DMA could promote innovation by removing the powers that a few anticompetitive Big Tech companies have accumulated over time,” says Collen Clark.


Critics of the DMA argue that it stifles innovation, imposes excessive regulatory burdens, and harms smaller platforms. They believe that the regulation is slowing the growth of digital platforms and discouraging future investment.


Critics have also argued that the prohibition on profiling in advertising is disrupting the targeted advertising ecosystem and impacting the revenue streams of digital platforms and publishers.


Critical voices in the U.S. claim that the DMA is making it more difficult and expensive to export digital services to Europe, resulting in a lower quality of services offered on the European digital market.


Apple, one of the largest gatekeepers, has raised concerns about the increased privacy, safety, and security risks of the DMA’s mandated alternatives for payment processing, contactless payment, and other high-stakes services.

27. Has the DMA increased costs for large online platforms?

Achieving compliance with the DMA requires gatekeepers to invest in technology, staffing, and legal resources, which is incredibly costly for companies of their size.


In a CSIS Scholl Chair report published just before the DMA came into effect, the costs of achieving and maintaining compliance were estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars.


The DMA also imposes fines for noncompliance, further increasing potential costs for large online platforms. To prevent this and keep fines to a minimum, gatekeepers pass some responsibilities onto third parties using their platforms by requiring them to also meet DMA compliance requirements.

28. Does the DMA promote a more diverse and competitive digital ecosystem?

Yes, the DMA aims to promote a more diverse and competitive digital ecosystem. It encourages startups and smaller businesses to compete with established platforms, fostering innovation, audience access, and growth.


The DMA also contains measures to ensure data portability and interoperability, which encourages competition by reducing barriers to entry and broadening consumer choice.

29. How does the DMA work with other regulations?

The DMA is designed to complement existing regulations — like the GDPR — rather than replace them.


The EC, responsible for enforcing the DMA, works closely with other regulatory bodies, including national competition and data protection authorities.


Regular consultations and cooperation mechanisms are in place to exchange information, align enforcement actions, and address any overlaps or inconsistencies between the DMA and other regulatory frameworks.

30. When did the DMA regulation come into effect?

The EC proposed the legislation in December 2020 and it was agreed upon by the European Parliament and the Council in March 2022.


The DMA law entered into effect in November 2022 and became applicable in May 2023. Designated gatekeepers had six months to comply with the requirements and obligations of the DMA

31. How should businesses adapt to the DMA?

Meeting DMA requirements should be a top priority for businesses in the European digital market.


To ensure compliance with the DMA, know what data your organization collects and uses, where and how, and with whom it’s shared.


Check internal policies for handling user data, obtaining consent, and using data for various purposes or sharing them with third parties.

  • ✅ Make sure your website or app uses the right privacy tools, obtains user consent in a compliant way, and has a comprehensive and clear privacy policy in place.
  • ✅ Implement a DMA-ready privacy compliance solution that gets you ready for the DMA, such as Usercentrics Consent Management Platform (CMP) or use the Mobile App SDK. Start obtaining user consent in a way that is secure, respects users’ privacy and personal data, offers user consent analytics for insights to produce higher opt-in rates, and enables compliance with relevant data privacy laws.
  • Subscribe to Usercentrics’ newsletter to stay informed about future DMA updates and more.

Get your business DMA-compliant with Usercentrics

The DMA was a significant step toward regulating data privacy, the digital economy, and promoting fair competition.


However, its success depends on effective implementation and enforcement, as well as ongoing monitoring and modification to make sure its goals are being met.


As technology, user expectations, innovation, regulations, and digital markets continue to evolve, regulations like the DMA must be adapted and updated to keep pace with new challenges and opportunities.


Get the Usercentrics CMP now and ensure ongoing compliance with DMA requirements. Secure your business for DMA-driven changes and bolster your company’s growth.

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Usercentrics does not provide legal advice, and information is provided for educational purposes only. We always recommend engaging qualified legal counsel or privacy specialists regarding data privacy and protection issues and operations.

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