Apple, Meta and Alphabet are targets of investigation in Europe – 03/25/2024 – Tech

Apple, Meta and Alphabet are targets of investigation in Europe – 03/25/2024 – Tech


The European Union has launched investigations into Apple, Alphabet and Meta in the first application of a new EU law designed to curb the market power of “big tech”.

The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, announced official investigations this Monday (25) to verify whether Apple and Google owner Alphabet were unduly favoring their own app stores, as well as using personal data to advertising by Meta, owner of Facebook.

The investigations fall under the Digital Markets Law, which aims to combat the domination of so-called “digital guardians” — the largest online platforms — and came into force at the beginning of this month.

If found guilty, companies face heavy fines that can reach up to 10% of their global revenue.

“These are serious cases,” said Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s executive vice-president responsible for digital policy. “AND [eles são] emblematic of what the law is expected to deliver when it comes to choice for consumers.”

“If we had been able to resolve these with a mere discussion, they would have been resolved by now,” he added.

The legislation requires companies to allow app developers to push users to products beyond their own platforms without charging them for it.

It also states that platforms that offer ranked search results in their app stores must treat the listing of third-party services in a “fair and non-discriminatory” manner.

The Commission said it was concerned that Apple and Alphabet had imposed “restrictions and limitations” that restricted developers’ ability to promote other services.

She added that she was looking at services like Google Shopping and Google Flights to see if the company was giving them preference in its search results.

The Commission said it was checking whether Apple was fulfilling its obligations to allow users to “easily uninstall any software applications” on its iOS operating systems and change default settings, browsers and search engines.

It also opened proceedings against Meta to verify whether the group’s new “pay or consent” subscription model complied with the law’s requirement for “big techs” to obtain user consent to “combine or cross-use their personal data” – such as for advertising purposes.

Thierry Breton, EU internal market commissioner, said that despite steps taken by technology companies to adapt to the law, “we are not convinced that solutions from Alphabet, Apple and Meta respect their obligations for a more digital space.” fair and open for European citizens and businesses”.

The law created a set of rules designed to force companies to make changes to their operations in ways that allow for greater competition in digital markets.

The moves come a month after the EU announced a 1.8 billion euro fine for stopping music streaming apps such as Spotify from informing users about cheaper offers.

The US Department of Justice announced last week that it was also suing Apple for allegedly using its power in the smartphone sector to stifle competition.

Alphabet and Meta have also been frequently targeted by regulators in the EU and beyond in recent years.

Brussels hopes to complete its investigations within a year. The turnaround is faster than the many years it has historically taken to handle antitrust investigations.

Tech companies hit back Monday against suggestions of wrongdoing. Apple said it is “confident” it is complying with the DMA, adding: “We will continue to engage constructively with the European Commission as they conduct their investigations.”

Amazon said it was “in compliance” with the rules and that it had “engaged constructively with the European Commission on our plans since the designation of two of our services”.

Meta said: “Subscriptions as an alternative to advertising is a well-established business model across many industries. We will continue to engage constructively with the Commission.” Oliver Bethell, Google’s chief competition officer, said: “To comply with the Digital Markets Act, we have made significant changes to the way our services operate in Europe… We will continue to defend our approach in the coming months.”

Daniel Friedlaender, senior vice president and head of CCIA Europe, a technology industry lobby group, said: “The timing of these announcements, while DMA compliance workshops are still ongoing, makes it appear that the Commission may be acting hastily. In addition to the potential outcomes, this action risks confirming industry fears that the DMA compliance process could end up being politicized.”


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