Google, Apple, and Meta investigated by the European Commission

The European Commission has enacted non-compliance investigations into Alphabet, Apple, and Meta under the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

“The Commission suspects that the measures put in place by these gatekeepers fall short of effective compliance of their obligations under the DMA,” the press release reads.

The three companies being investigated are Google’s parent company, Alphabet, Apple, and Meta. Both Alphabet and Apple are being investigated for their rules on steering in their app stores, while Meta is being probed for its “pay or consent model.”

The Commission intends to understand whether Alphabet’s and Apple’s conduct is compliant with the DMA or whether they impose restrictions and limitations on users and developers.

Alphabet is also being investigated for self-preferencing its services, such as Google Shopping, Google Flights, and Google Hotels – over alternative rival services.

The Commission is investigating Alphabet, in part, as the body is concerned with the lack of fairness afforded in Google’s search results page.

Apple is being investigated further for its inability to comply with various obligations. Namely, the commission is concerned with Apple’s design of the web browser choice screen, which prevents users from “exercising their choice of services within the Apple ecosystem.”

Furthermore, the Commission intends to determine whether Apple allows users to easily uninstall applications on iOS, change default settings, and prompt users with choice screens, allowing them to use an alternative service or search engine on their iPhone.

Finally, Meta’s recent “pay or consent” model is being investigated by the Commission to see if it complies with the DMA – which requires companies to gain users' consent when they intend to use their personal data across different platforms for advertising purposes.

“The Commission is concerned that the binary choice imposed by Meta's “pay or consent” model may not provide a real alternative in case users do not consent, thereby not achieving the objective of preventing the accumulation of personal data by gatekeepers.”

The European Commission intends to finish the investigation within 12 months.

If the companies are found to have broken the rules of the DMA, the Commission can fine each company “10% of the company’s total worldwide turnover.”

“Fines can go up to 20% in case of repeated infringement. Moreover, in case of systematic infringements, the Commission may adopt additional remedies such as obliging a gatekeeper to sell a business or parts of it or banning the gatekeeper from acquisitions of additional services related to systemic non-compliance,” the press release concludes.

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