Eurobites: EU targets the online 'gatekeepers' with new law

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: farewell to the fax machine (possibly); lone-worker protection market grows; tech a mixed blessing for UK's midsized companies.

  • The European Union's Digital Markets Act officially comes into force today, a piece of legislation its creators hope "will put an end to unfair practices by companies that act as gatekeepers in the online platform economy." The "gatekeepers" referred to here are the usual-suspect tech behemoths, those that provide a "core platform service" to more than 45 million monthly end users located in the EU. To conform to the Act – and avoid a fine of up to 20% of turnover (for repeat offenders) – such gatekeeper platforms will, for example, have to allow third parties to inter-operate with the gatekeeper's own services in certain situations, allow their business users to access the data generated by their use of the platform and provide companies that advertise on their platform with the necessary tools to carry out their own independent verification of their advertisements hosted by the gatekeeper. (See Eurobites: EU lawmakers give green light to digital oversight legislation.)

    (Source: Andrey Kuzmin/Alamy Stock Photo)
    (Source: Andrey Kuzmin/Alamy Stock Photo)

  • Millennials, Gen X-ers, any other recently coined demographics that Light Reading hasn't heard about yet: Look away now. Because it might be time, old-timers, to say a final, fond farewell to the fax machine – in the UK at least. Communications regulator Ofcom has launched a consultation on whether it's time to remove the requirement to provide "fax services" from the universal service obligation (USO), a set of rules that is supposed to ensure phone services are available to people across the UK at a reasonable price. For one thing, the migration of telephone networks to Internet protocol (IP) technology means fax services can no longer be guaranteed to work in the same way; for another, email and document-sharing software have, in theory at least, largely made the fax machine redundant.

  • The market for "lone worker protection" products and services in Europe reached an estimated €100 million (US$99.4 million) in 2021 and is expected to grow to €135 million ($134.2 million) by 2026, according to a new study from research firm Berg Insight. Not surprisingly in the age of the app, smartphone-based offerings are increasingly replacing dedicated protection devices, though certain industry sectors, such as construction and manufacturing, still favor something a little more rugged.

  • Another study, this one from Virgin Media O2 Business, has found that 65% of midsized UK companies reckon that technology is their biggest driver of growth, though a third also admit that tech is their biggest internal challenge. The study also found that, on average, employees of midsized businesses now spend just a quarter of their time in offices, with seven in ten businesses having more mobile connections than they did a year ago.

  • Nordic operator Telenor has appointed Ieva Martinkenaite head of research and innovation, succeeding Bjørn Taale Sandberg, who assumed the role of chief strategy officer of DNA earlier this year. Martinkenaite has been with Telenor for more than seven years.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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