Apple and Microsoft Push Back Against EU’s ‘Gatekeeper’ Designation

Digital Markets Act

Microsoft and Apple are reportedly protesting their classification as “gatekeepers” under new European tech regulations.

As the Financial Times (FT) reported Monday (Sept. 4), the tech giants’ fight with the European Union (EU) is happening as that body prepares to publish services regulated under its Digital Markets Act (DMA).

Under the DMA, platforms will be barred from prioritizing their services over those of rivals. They will be forbidden to amalgamate personal data from different services or from using data gleaned from third-party merchants to engage in competitive practices against them. And companies will be obliged to let their customers download apps from rival platforms.

According to the FT report, citing sources with knowledge of the matter, Microsoft has rejected the notion that its Bing search engine should have to adhere to the same standards as Google, its much larger rival.

Bing has a 3% market share. If governed by the DMA’s rules, Microsoft would have to give users the option to use other search engines, Google included, the report said.

For its part, Apple contends that its iMessage does not have enough users to meet the DMA rules threshold, sources said, and as such should not have to do things like open the service to competitors such as Meta-owned WhatsApp.

“We remain very concerned about the privacy and data security risks the DMA poses for our users,” an Apple spokesperson told PYMNTS. “Our focus will be on how we mitigate these impacts and continue to deliver the very best products and services to our European customers.”

A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment.

The apparent battle over the DMA is happening as Big Tech companies contend with the law’s sister regulation, the Digital Services Act, which went into effect last month.

As part of DSA’s implementation, the European Commission — the EU’s governing body — designated 17 Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs) and two Very Large Online Search Engines (VLOSEs) that are subject to more stringent scrutiny.

“Complying with the DSA is not a punishment — it is an opportunity for platforms to reinforce their trustworthiness,” said Thierry Breton, the EU commissioner for internal market.

But as noted here last month, some companies have protested the VLOP designation. Amazon filed a legal challenge in July, contending that the DSA’s criteria are “discriminatory” and that its online marketplace is not a dominant retailer in any of the EU nations where it does business.

“We agree with the EC’s objective and are committed to protecting customers from illegal products and content, but Amazon doesn’t fit this description of a ‘Very Large Online Platform’ (VLOP) under the DSA and therefore should not be designated as such,” Amazon said at the time in a statement provided to PYMNTS.