Apple, Meta, and Google targeted by EU in DMA non-compliance investigations

The European Commission is opening five non-compliance investigations into how Apple, Google, and Meta are complying with its new Digital Markets Act antitrust rules, the regulator announced today. “We suspect that the suggested solutions put forward by the three companies do not fully comply with the DMA,” the EU’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement. “We will now investigate the companies’ compliance with the DMA, to ensure open and contestable digital markets in Europe.”

In particular, the Commission plans to investigate Google and Apple’s anti-steering rules in their app stores and whether Google is guilty of self-preferencing its own services within its search engine. Apple’s browser choice screen for iOS is also being investigated as well as Meta’s “pay or consent model” for ad targeting. In a press conference, the Commission said it plans to conclude the investigations within the next 12 months.

Additionally, the EU regulator is also looking into the fee structure Apple announced for distributing apps outside of the App Store, as well as whether Amazon is self-preferencing its own products on its store. The Commission has also announced that Meta has been given an additional six months to make Messenger interoperable with other messaging services.

“We are not convinced that the solutions by Alphabet, Apple and Meta respect their obligations for a fairer and more open digital space for European citizens and businesses,” EU Commissioner Thierry Breton said in a statement. “Should our investigation conclude that there is lack of full compliance with the DMA, gatekeepers could face heavy fines.”

Following the investigation, the Commission will tell each gatekeeper what must be done to address concerns, as well as what measures the regulator is planning to take. If found not to be in compliance, the Commission can fine each company up to 10 percent of their annual global revenue under the DMA, or even 20 percent in cases of “repeated infringement.”

Earlier this month, the six major tech companies designated as gatekeepers under the DMA had to start complying with its rules. These include having to give customers the option of changing default apps and uninstalling the gatekeeper’s pre-installed applications, a ban on ranking a gatekeeper’s first-party services higher than rivals, and allowing third-party app stores.

The EU’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager previously indicated to Reuters that the Commission would be taking a closer look at how Apple is complying with the regulation over concerns that it may “de facto not make it in any way attractive to use the benefits of the DMA.”

Meta’s “pay or consent model” has also been the subject of complaints from various EU watchdogs. Last year, it launched a new paid tier for Facebook and Instagram in the EU that allows users to pay €9.99 a month to use each service without ads. The subscription was designed to be a way to get user consent to collect their data if they decide not to pay, but the Commission is concerned with the “binary choice” that Meta is offering. Last week, Meta said it had offered to reduce the monthly price of ad-free access to €5.99 a month to appease regulators.

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By asm3a