The European Commission designated Apple, Google parent Alphabet and Meta Platforms within a set of companies providing core online services that fall under the remit of its Digital Markets Act, with the players given six months to comply with the legislation.
Amazon, TikTok parent ByteDance and Microsoft were also branded as gatekeepers providing specific services deemed to be important links between businesses and consumers.
The designations follow a 45-day review period to assess submissions from the six, along with Samsung.
All had indicated they may fall under the EC’s definition.
In the regulator’s list of core online services provided by the tech giants it highlighted Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android in the operating system category, with Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, App Store and Google Play among those also given specific designations.
Now the gatekeepers have been confirmed, they must comply with a full list of rules outlined in the DMA, with the majority of requirements carrying a six-month deployment obligation.
Rules include allowing third party interoperability in specific situations; providing access to data generated on platforms; not promoting a gatekeeper’s own services more prominently than others; and letting users remove any preinstalled software or apps.
The EC noted non-compliance could result in fines of up to 10 per cent of the guilty party’s worldwide turnover, with this potentially rising to 20 per cent for repeat infringements.
It claims it could force “additional remedies such as obliging a gatekeeper to sell a business or parts of it”.
The EC also opened separate investigations into whether Apple’s iMessage or iPad operating system should fall under the rules.