EU Launches Investigations into Big Tech Compliance with Digital Markets Act

The European Union (EU) has escalated its enforcement efforts against major tech companies by launching formal investigations into Alphabet/Google, Apple, and Meta (formerly Facebook) under the Digital Markets Act (DMA). The DMA, which came into effect on March 7, aims to promote fair competition and open digital markets by regulating the behavior of large digital platforms, or “gatekeepers.”

Alphabet/Google is under scrutiny for its rules on steering in Google Play and self-preferencing in search results. Similarly, Apple is being investigated for its rules on steering in the App Store and the design of choice screens for alternatives to its Safari web browser. Meta’s “pay or consent” model, which offers an ad-free subscription service for Facebook and Instagram in Europe, is also facing investigation.

The EU’s investigations focus on whether these companies are complying with their obligations under the DMA. The commission suspects that certain measures put in place by these gatekeepers fall short of effective compliance. Violations of the DMA could result in fines of up to 10% of the company’s global annual turnover.

The investigations follow a pattern of increased antitrust scrutiny of big tech in both the EU and the United States. Last week, the U.S. Justice Department sued Apple for antitrust violations, and Amazon, Google, and Meta are also facing federal antitrust lawsuits in the U.S.

The DMA requires gatekeepers to open up their platforms to smaller rivals, allowing more access to users. Companies like Apple and Alphabet are being investigated for potentially favoring their own app stores and services over competitors, while Meta’s subscription model is being questioned for potentially limiting user choice.

In response to the investigations, the tech companies have stated their commitment to compliance with the DMA. However, concerns remain about the effectiveness of their measures and whether they adequately address the requirements of the law.

The EU’s actions signal a firm stance on enforcing the DMA and promoting fair competition in the digital market. The investigations are part of a broader effort by European regulators to address concerns about the dominance of big tech and ensure a level playing field for all players in the digital economy. As the investigations unfold, the tech giants will face increasing pressure to demonstrate compliance with EU regulations and address any concerns raised by regulators.