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EU Probes Apple, Google, Meta Under New Digital Law

 |  March 25, 2024

The European Union has initiated investigations into three tech giants – Google, Meta, and Apple – as part of its first probes under the Digital Markets Act (DMA) introduced in 2022.

According to Bloomberg, the move signals the EU’s determination to ensure fair competition in the digital sphere and reign in the dominance of major tech players.

The probes, announced by EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager and industry head Thierry Breton on Monday, target potential breaches of the newly established rules aimed at curbing anti-competitive practices in the digital market. Under the DMA, companies found guilty of violating these regulations face substantial fines of up to 10% of their global annual revenue.

Google is being looked into for not following the rules of the DMA, which say tech companies shouldn’t favor their own services over others. The commission worries that this might mean other services listed on Google’s search results page aren’t treated fairly.

The commission is also checking if Apple is making it simple for iPhone users to switch web browsers. They’re also investigating Meta’s offer for users to pay a monthly fee for ad-free versions of Facebook or Instagram, so their personal data isn’t used for online ads.

Related: EU to Investigate Apple and Google’s Compliance with New Tech Rules

According Bloomberg, these big tech companies might not be following the rules of the Digital Markets Act properly. They’re looking into whether Google and Apple are letting app developers direct users to offers outside of their app stores, as the rules require. The commission is worried that these companies are placing restrictions and fees that stop apps from freely promoting offers.

“The Commission is concerned that the binary choice imposed by Meta’s ‘pay or consent’ model may not provide a real alternative in case users do not consent, thereby not achieving the objective of preventing the accumulation of personal data by gatekeepers,” it said.

This latest development follows closely on the heels of the EU’s recent enforcement action against Apple, which resulted in a hefty fine of €1.8 billion (approximately £1.5 billion). The fine was imposed for Apple’s violation of competition laws related to its music streaming services.

The investigations into Alphabet, Meta, and Apple underscore the EU’s commitment to scrutinizing the conduct of tech giants and ensuring a level playing field for all market participants. With digital platforms wielding significant influence over various aspects of modern life, regulators are increasingly vigilant in monitoring their activities to prevent the stifling of competition and innovation.

The Digital Markets Act is a set of rules aimed at big tech companies, like Google and Apple, who act as “gatekeepers” in the digital world. It makes them follow certain rules to ensure fairness in the market. If they don’t follow these rules, they could face big fines or even be broken up. The goal is to open up the market and prevent companies from locking consumers into their own products or services.

The outcome of these probes could have far-reaching implications not only for the companies under investigation but also for the broader digital ecosystem. Depending on the findings, the EU may impose stringent measures aimed at fostering fair competition and protecting consumer interests in the digital markets.

Source: Bloomberg