EU Launches Non-Compliance Probe into Tech Giants Apple, Meta, Amazon, and Alphabet

The European Commission has initiated a non-compliance investigation into tech behemoths Apple, Meta, Amazon, and Alphabet, under the Digital Markets Act (DMA). This move, announced on March 25, comes as the Commission suspects that these companies’ measures may not effectively comply with their obligations under the DMA. Specifically, EU antitrust regulators are scrutinizing Alphabet’s practices concerning “steering” in its Google Play store and self-preferencing on Google Search, Apple’s rules on steering in the App Store and Safari’s choice screen, as well as Meta’s “pay or consent model.”

In addition to these focal points, the Commission is delving into aspects related to Apple’s new fee structure for alternative app stores and Amazon’s ranking practices on its marketplace. The companies have been instructed to maintain specific documents to monitor effective implementation and compliance with their obligations. The proceedings are allotted 12 months to conclude, with potential fines of up to 10% of the company’s total worldwide turnover if infringement is established, along with possible mandates for divestiture or acquisition bans in cases of systematic infringement.

The DMA aims to foster contestable and equitable markets in the digital sector by regulating “gatekeepers” – large digital platforms with significant influence over the digital economy. Designated gatekeepers, including Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company), Meta, and Microsoft, are mandated to fully comply with DMA requirements, with a deadline set for March 7. This latest probe by the EU follows a lawsuit filed by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) against Apple, alleging monopoly practices and anti-competitive behavior in its app market ecosystem, further enhances global regulatory scrutiny on tech giants.