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Geoff Parker Provides Guidance on EU's Handling of Tech Platform Gatekeeper Companies

Feb 18, 2021

Dartmouth engineering professor Geoff Parker has co-authored a new report providing recommendations on the proposed Digital Markets Act (DMA) in the European Union (EU). The report, established by the European Commission Joint Research Centre, provides an independent economic opinion on the DMA, which, if it becomes law, would target large information technology companies by classifying them as gatekeepers subject to new regulations.

Geoff Parker
Professor Geoff Parker

"There has been an overarching concern in the European Union that certain technology platforms, especially the large US firms such as Amazon and Google (Alphabet), have become gatekeepers. That is, they provide the core cloud infrastructure for other firms to operate their businesses and they provide the pathways to reach end users and customers," explained Parker, who is also Director of the Master of Engineering Management Program at Dartmouth. "One of the key take-aways from our report is that it's possible to assess which platforms are gatekeepers by understanding their positions within a network and the number of interactions that flow through them."

The panel's report also provides recommendations as to which DMA regulations should be adopted.

Parker, whose research focuses on market platforms and their design, was asked to join the high-level panel of economic experts and co-authored specific chapters of the report, particularly those covering control over and access to data, in addition to participating in all panel discussions of major issues.

The report also proposes a new way to allow novel companies entering the market to get access to customer data, in order to provide new services, without requiring those same customers to download their data themselves. The co-authors believe this access would provide a more secure way for users to share data while also fostering market competition.

"The largest firms by market capitalization are technology firms, and their impact is being felt in every aspect of life. Citizens who want to understand the ways in which these firms operate and the ways in which they might be regulated to ensure fair access to markets and information should find the report to be of use," says Parker.

The DMA was proposed in December 2020 and requires approval by the European Council and European Parliament to become law.

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