EU Launches Investigations into Apple, Google, and Meta under New Digital Law

By Milcah Tanimu

The European Union (EU) has initiated investigations into tech giants Apple, Google’s parent company Alphabet, and Meta (formerly Facebook) under the new Digital Markets Act, marking the first-ever probes under this extensive legislation. These probes could potentially result in substantial fines against the US-based corporations.

These companies, along with Amazon, TikTok owner ByteDance, and Microsoft, were designated as market “gatekeepers” under the Digital Markets Act, obliging them to comply with the new regulations since March 7.

Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, expressed concerns that Alphabet, Apple, and Meta may not be fulfilling their obligations to create a fairer and more open digital environment for European citizens and businesses.

The European Commission, the EU’s antitrust regulator, suspects that the measures implemented by these firms so far may not be effectively compliant with the new law.

In response to the probes, the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), a major tech lobbying group representing the targeted companies, criticized the EU for rushing into investigations prematurely.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, defended the timing of the probes, asserting that regulators had not acted hastily.

Under the Digital Markets Act, fines of up to 10 percent of a company’s total global turnover can be imposed, with the potential for higher penalties for repeat offenders. In extreme cases, the EU may even order the breakup of companies.

The probes launched on Monday focus on whether Google Play and Apple’s App Store allow app developers to present offers outside of these marketplaces and whether Google’s search results favor its own services over competitors.

Apple is also under scrutiny regarding the ease of uninstalling apps on its iOS operating system and the design of web browser choice screens. Meta faces challenges related to its ad-free subscriptions model and data processing practices.

These investigations add to the legal challenges faced by Apple, which include a recent lawsuit by the US Department of Justice accusing the company of monopolizing the smartphone market and a 1.8-billion-euro fine imposed by the EU for restricting access to cheaper music streaming subscriptions. Apple has stated its intention to appeal the EU fine.


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