NewsEU probes Alphabet, Apple, and Meta under new digital law

EU probes Alphabet, Apple, and Meta under new digital law

"We suspect that the proposed solutions presented by three companies are not fully compliant with the DMA," said Margrethe Vestager, Vice President of the EC.
"We suspect that the proposed solutions presented by three companies are not fully compliant with the DMA," said Margrethe Vestager, Vice President of the EC.
Images source: © East News | Thierry Monasse/REPORTER
5:22 PM EDT, March 25, 2024
The European Commission embarked on Monday with the initiation of five investigations targeting digital giants Alphabet, Apple, and Meta. These probes are centered around potential breaches of competition rules as stipulated by the Digital Markets Act (DMA), marking the first such actions taken under this legislation.
The inquiry into Alphabet, the conglomerate behind Google, arises from allegations that it leveraged Google's dominant position in search engines to unduly favor its own services in hotel price comparisons, flight ticket offerings, and other online consumer goods sales.

Although Google was previously penalized with a 2.4 billion euro ($2.7 billion) fine in 2017, the remedial measures it proposed failed to meet the European authorities' expectations.

Furthermore, the European Commission (EC) is scrutinizing the restrictive policies implemented by Alphabet and Apple in their respective app marketplaces, Google Play and the App Store. The crux of the concern is that by enforcing various fees, both companies hinder developers' ability to effectively market their products and engage directly with users.
Another investigation into Apple seeks to ascertain whether the tech behemoth is breaching regulations that mandate the straightforward uninstallation of preloaded applications on its iOS platform on iPhones. The EC harbors suspicions that Apple may be stifling the use of alternative web browsers in favor of its proprietary Safari.

Users must consent to data sharing

Meta, the parent company of social media heavyweights Facebook and Instagram, is under the microscope for purportedly flouting the requirement for user consent prior to the sharing of personal information for advertising purposes. While Meta introduced a subscription model for Facebook and Instagram users desiring an ad-free experience, the arrangement leaves those opting for the complimentary version no choice but to agree to data profiling. The EC contends that Meta's "consent or pay" scheme fails to present a genuine option for users disinclined towards profiling.

"Gatekeepers" face significant fines

"We are skeptical that the remedies proposed by these three corporations fully align with the DMA's stipulations. Our examination will delve into whether their activities are in line with the regulations, aiming to safeguard an open and competitive digital marketplace in Europe," noted Margrethe Vestager, Deputy Head of the EC responsible for competition policy.
Echoing these sentiments, Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market, pointed out the uncertainty regarding the adherence of Alphabet, Apple, and Meta to their commitments to fostering a fair and open digital environment for the people and businesses of Europe. "Should our inquiry reveal a substantial non-compliance with the DMA, these 'gatekeepers' could face hefty fines," he stated, underlining the seriousness of the matter.
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