European Commission investigates Google, Apple and Meta for non-compliance with Digital Markets Act News
European Commission investigates Google, Apple and Meta for non-compliance with Digital Markets Act

The European Commission on Monday initiated non-compliance investigations against tech giants Google, Apple and Meta under the Digital Markets Act (DMA). These investigations mark the first cases following the compliance deadline set by the DMA in early March.

In Google’s case, the European Commission is investigating whether the search results provided prioritize the company’s vertical search tools over competing services.

Previously, Google announced changes to its search results, including implementing dedicated units and chips to facilitate users’ access to comparison sites in areas such as flights, hotels, and shopping. Additionally, Google has removed certain features from its search results page, such as the Google Flights unit. The company has also introduced consent banners to seek users’ permission to link their Google services.

Regarding Apple, the Commission has initiated proceedings to examine the company’s measures for complying with obligations related to enabling easy uninstallation of software applications, allowing easy changes to default settings, and presenting choice screens to encourage users to select alternative default services.

In January, Apple announced changes to iOS, Safari and the App Store in the EU to align with the DMA. These changes consist of introducing over 600 new application programming interfaces (APIs), expanded app analytics, options for alternative browser engines and modifications to app payment processing and distribution. Apple emphasized that these changes aim to enhance user privacy and security while complying with the DMA.

The Commission is investigating Meta for its “pay or consent” model introduced in the EU. The investigation aims to determine if this model is consistent with Article 5(2) of the DMA, which provides that gatekeepers must obtain user consent before combining or cross-using their personal data.

Meta also expressed in January its commitment to complying with evolving European regulations and supporting the DMA’s goal of promoting contestability and fairness in digital markets.

In response to the investigations, European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager stated:

[the investigations do] not mean that we endorse all other measures implemented by gatekeepers which are not (or not yet) subject to investigation. We will continue to use all available tools should any gatekeeper try to circumvent or to undermine the obligations of the DMA. It is important for us to achieve the objectives of the DMA such that consumers have the benefits of open and contestable markets. A market with competition.

The proposal for the DMA, along with the Digital Service Act, was put forth by the European Commission in December 2020. The DMA came into force on November 1, 2022, and became applicable on May 2, 2023. Designated gatekeepers were given a maximum of six months following the Commission’s decision to ensure compliance with the DMA.

The DMA, enacted by the European Union, aims to establish “fairer and more contestable” markets in the digital sector. It introduces a set of objective criteria to identify “gatekeepers,” which refers to large digital platforms offering “core platform services.” Gatekeepers are obligated to adhere to a specific set of obligations and prohibitions outlined in the DMA.