EU launches probe into Meta, Apple and Alphabet under sweeping new tech law

EU launches probe into Meta, Apple and Alphabet under sweeping new tech law

Executive Vice-President of the European Commission for a Europe fit for the Digital Age (Competition), Margrethe Vestager, holds a press conference on “Apple on App Store rules for music streaming providers” in Brussels, Belgium on April 30, 2021. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Dursun Aydemir | Anadolu | Getty Images

The European Union on Monday opened an investigation into Apple, Alphabet and Meta, in its first probe under the sweeping new Digital Markets Act tech legislation.

“Today, the Commission has opened non-compliance investigations under the Digital Markets Act (DMA) into Alphabet’s rules on steering in Google Play and self-preferencing on Google Search, Apple’s rules on steering in the App Store and the choice screen for Safari and Meta’s ‘pay or consent model’,” the Commission said in a statement.

The first two probes focus on Alphabet and Apple and relate to so-called “anti-steering rules.” Under the DMA, tech firms are not allowed to block businesses from telling their users about cheaper options for their products or about subscriptions outside of an app store.

“The way that Apple and Alphabet’s implemented the DMA rules on anti-steering seems to be at odds with the letter of the law. Apple and Alphabet will still charge various recurring fees, and still limit steering,” EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager said during a press conference on Monday.

Apple has already fallen foul of the EU’s rules on this. This month, the company was fined 1.8 billion euros ($1.95 billion) after the European Commission said it found that Apple had applied restrictions on app developers that prevented them from informing iOS users about alternative and cheaper music subscription services available outside of the app.

The third probe focuses on Alphabet. The European Commission said it is looking into whether Alphabet’s display of Google search results “may lead to self-preferencing in relation to Google’s” other services such as Google Shopping over similar rival services.

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