European Union regulators have been scoring some important gains against the large tech companies, namely Meta, Apple, and Google.

These recent developments are significant as they hit at the core elements of these company’s business models, while benefiting users, and potentially removing some of the barriers that might have held web3 from advancing.

The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) and European Data Protection Board (EDPB) have piled on Facebook and Instagram prohibiting them to force user consent of data sharing for the purpose of ad-targeting. A win for data privacy and user choice. 

The European Union is now forcing Apple and Google to require alternatives to its App Stores, including payment systems. This will be done via a new interoperability obligation between messaging services, in addition to banning non consensual data collection for the purpose of targeted advertising. This development is for real, as Apple and Google are now preparing to allow the sideloading of Apps in the not too distant future.

Korean regulators have also been hawkish on anti-Google/Apple practices, and they have already enacted a law that restricts these players from charging app developers from Korea commision on in-app purchases within their stores. 

Finally, another indirectly related development pertains to the European Union requiring Apple to adopt a more universal charging cable standard at the expense of its proprietary “Lightning” cable by December 2024. Not squarely web3-ish, but a good stop to monopoly driven requirements. 

Let’s extrapolate and imagine. All these developments have implications into the future as they represent many of the required conditions for web3 to prosper. 

  • More decentralization of services

  • Dismantling of central, powerful monopolies

  • Less revenues for central players

  • More revenue opportunities to new players

  • More user data privacy and choice about its usage

  • More choice of payment services (think crypto eventually as one of these choices)

All these efforts took time to materialize. The App stores change situation got started in 2016. But these are big shifts. 

Let’s hope these developments are followed in the influential US market although US regulators have not been as precise nor prescriptive as their European counterpart, even if they have imposed occasional fines. Message to US regulators: it’s not the penalties that count. It’s the required changes that accompany them.