EU initiates investigations into Apple, Google, Meta under new law

Legislation aims to ensure a fairer and more open digital marketplace for European citizens and businesses

The European Union announced on Monday the commencement of investigations into tech giants Apple, Google’s parent company Alphabet, and Meta for the first time under the new Digital Markets Act.

This legislation aims to ensure a fairer and more open digital marketplace for European citizens and businesses.

The probes follow the classification of these companies, along with Amazon, ByteDance (TikTok’s owner), and Microsoft, as market “gatekeepers,” a designation that requires them to adhere to stringent regulations since March 7.

Thierry Breton, the EU’s Internal Market Commissioner, expressed concerns regarding the sufficiency of the measures implemented by Alphabet, Apple, and Meta to meet their obligations under the act.

The European Commission, the bloc’s antitrust body, suspects that the companies’ efforts to comply may not be adequate.

The CCIA, a major tech lobbying group that includes the targeted companies, criticized the EU’s decision to proceed with the probes, suggesting that the action was premature.

However, Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s Competition Commissioner, refuted claims that the investigation was hastily initiated.

The Digital Markets Act allows for the imposition of fines up to 10% of a company’s total global turnover, increasing to 20% for subsequent offenses.

In severe cases, it permits the EU to mandate the division of companies. Unlike previous regulations, the new law requires the completion of investigations within 12 months from their start.

The investigations will particularly assess whether Google Play and Apple’s App Store restrict app developers from presenting offers to consumers outside of their platforms, which could indicate non-compliance with the law.

Additionally, Alphabet is under scrutiny for potentially favoring its services, like Google Shopping or Google Flights, in search results, a practice for which Google was fined €2.4 billion in 2017.

In response, Google’s director of competition, Oliver Bethell, stated that significant changes have been made in Europe to comply with regulations, and Apple expressed confidence in its compliance plan.

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