EU Investigating Alphabet, Apple, & Meta For DMA Non-Compliance

The EU Commission is opening investigations into Alphabet, Apple, and Meta over possible non-compliance with the Digital Markets Act....
EU Investigating Alphabet, Apple, & Meta For DMA Non-Compliance
Written by Matt Milano
  • The EU Commission is opening investigations into Alphabet, Apple, and Meta over possible non-compliance with the Digital Markets Act.

    The DMA targets large companies that act as “gatekeepers” for an industry or market. The legislation aims to prevent such companies from prioritizing their own products and services over those of competitors, and force them to interoperate with smaller rivals. Apple’s App Store, Google’s search, and Meta’s WhatsApp messaging are prime examples.

    Despite all three companies taking measures to comply with the DMA, the Commission believes their efforts may not meet the required threshold.

    • In the case of Alphabet and Apple, the Commission is investigating whether Apple and Google are allowing developers to “steer” customers to offers outside the App Store and Play Store, avoiding the two companies’ fees and giving users a cheaper option.
    • The Commission is also investigating whether Apple is respecting user choice when it comes to uninstalling default iOS applications and replacing them with alternatives. Apple has received significant criticism for this in the past, as the company locked users into using its Safari web browser. Even if a user installed an alternative, Apple forced all iOS web browsers to use Safari as the underlying engine, making all iOS web browsers little more than Safari skins.
    • The Commission is investigating if Google search unfairly leads people to choose Alphabet’s vertical services, such as Google Flights, Google Hotels, and Google Shopping over competing options.
    • Meta is under investigation for its “pay or consent” model, in which users who want to avoid cross-site data tracking and profiling must pay for their privacy. The Commission fears the binary choice may offer many users no real choice at all.

    The Commission says it is engaged in additional “investigatory steps” and fact-finding regarding whether Amazon shows a preference for its own brands and products, as well as whether Apple’s new developer fees pertaining to iOS app sideloading may be in violation.

    “Today, the Commission opens five non-compliance investigations under the Digital Markets Act (DMA),” said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President in charge of competition policy. “They concern Alphabet’s rules on steering in Google Play and self-preferencing in Google Search, Apple’s rules on steering in the App Store and on choosing browsers and changing defaults, and Meta’s ‘pay or consent model’. We suspect that the suggested solutions put forward by the three companies do not fully comply with the DMA. We will now investigate the companies’ compliance with the DMA, to ensure open and contestable digital markets in Europe.”

    “The Digital Markets Act became applicable on 7 March. We have been in discussions with gatekeepers for months to help them adapt, and we can already see changes happening on the market,” added Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market. “But 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. Should our investigation conclude that there is lack of full compliance with the DMA, gatekeepers could face heavy fines.”

    Get the WebProNews newsletter delivered to your inbox

    Get the free daily newsletter read by decision makers

    Advertise with Us

    Ready to get started?

    Get our media kit