EU Launches Investigations into Apple, Google, and Meta

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The European Commission has initiated investigations into tech giants Apple, Google, and Meta over potential violations of new digital competition rules, raising concerns about compliance with the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

The probes launched just 18 days after the implementation of the DMA, focus on several key areas, including Apple’s measures to enhance user control over devices, Google’s search result displays, and Meta’s subscription model for social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager emphasised the timeliness of the investigations, highlighting the need for accountability in the digital ecosystem and consumer protection.

Google and Apple face scrutiny over their efforts to direct consumers to offers outside their app stores and their respective displays of search results and web browser choice screens. Meta’s “pay or consent” model for ad tracking avoidance on social media platforms is also under examination.

While Google and Meta have expressed their readiness to defend their approaches, concerns have been raised regarding the effectiveness of Apple’s measures in promoting user choice within its ecosystem.

Thierry Breton, EU internal market chief, raised doubts about the freedom of consent in Meta’s subscription model, suggesting a binary choice between payment and ad tracking may not constitute genuine consent.

The investigations will assess compliance with the DMA, with potential fines of up to 10 percent of global annual turnover if violations are confirmed. Amazon and Apple’s app store fee structures are also under review.

Despite Apple’s assertion of compliance with the DMA, ongoing dialogue between the company, the European Commission, and developers continues amid concerns about user safety and cybersecurity.

The outcomes of these investigations are anticipated to shape the regulatory landscape for digital platforms in Europe, reflecting the EU’s commitment to fostering fair competition and consumer protection in the digital age.