The EU Commission Launches New Investigations into Apple, Meta and Google Over DMA Breaches

E.U. officials are wasting no time in enacting their powers under the new Digital Markets Act (D.M.A.), which is designed to curb the power of large ‘gatekeeper’ platforms in the online space.

Today, the E.U. Commission has launched non-compliance investigations into Google’s self-preferencing of the Google Play Store in Search, Apple’s App Store “steering” rules, and Meta’s ad-free subscription plan.

App store tactics have long come under scrutiny for giving the store owner an advantage, though the arguments around such have generally fallen short in matching that against impeding fair business practice.

Meta’s ad-free offering, meanwhile, which enables users to pay a monthly fee to avoid data tracking and ads, has been criticized by privacy advocates for essentially forcing users to pay for their privacy. Last week, Meta announced that it would halve the price of the package in order to win broader support.  

In addition to these cases, the E.U. Commission is also examining Apple’s new fee structure for alternative app stores, and Amazon’s ranking practices on its marketplace.

So, there’s a fair bit going on, especially when you also consider that the D.M.A. only came into effect earlier this month.

The E.U. Digital Markets Act aims to ensure that so-called “gatekeeper” platforms allow third parties to inter-operate with their tools, enabling broader competition in the market, while also giving users and businesses access to their data, ensuring transparency and accountability from these providers.

EU gatekeeper platforms

As you can see in this overview, Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta and Microsoft have been designated as gatekeeper platforms, and all but one of them has been included in this first action under the D.M.A.

It’s still too early to tell whether the D.M.A., and other E.U. regulations, will have a positive or negative impact, though they will definitely cost the platforms money, as they continue to revise their operations to adhere to the new rules.

And again, E.U. officials have been keen to test their new powers, with X and TikTok also coming under scrutiny under the new Digital Services Act (D.S.A.), another element of the latest E.U. regulatory rules.

It’ll be interesting to see how these cases are heard, and what rulings end up being enforced as a result, and how lenient the Commission will be on revisions and updates to meet these new standards.

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