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The European Commission has announced that it is launching an investigation into the practices of Apple, Alphabet (the owner of Google) and Meta (which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp) over possible uncompetitive practices, just two weeks after the firms submitted their compliance reports under the new Digital Markets Act (DMA), enacted in 2022.

Only six entities are subject to the act – the three being investigated along with Amazon, Microsoft and TikTok owner ByteDance.

The announcement comes shortly after the US Government sued Apple for building a smartphone monopoly market, and just weeks after the EU slapped Apple with a separate €1.8 billion fine – 0.5 per cent of annual turnover.

This penalty however pales in comparison to what the companies under investigation may be subject to if found to have breached the DMA, which includes provisions for fines equivalent to 10 per cent of their annual turnover.

The EU will be looking at five possible acts of non-compliance to the DMA. The first two involve Apple and Alphabet’s iOS and Android systems and their respective app stores, asking whether the two firms are not allowing apps to freely communicate with users and make contracts with them.

The EU says Apple and Alphabet may be making it difficult for apps to inform users of ways to pay less by using services outside the operating system’s ecosystem.

Another asks whether Apple is not giving enough choice, with the EU arguing that the company does not allow users to delete certain apps, while other apps do not provide meaningful choices as to the user of different browsers of search engines.

The fourth possible point of non-compliance relates to the recently enacted policy by Meta that asks users to pay to avoid their data being used for adverts.

Finally, the investigation will also look into whether Google gives preferences to its firms own goods and services in its search results.

“We suspect that the suggested solutions put forward by the three companies do not fully comply with the DMA,” said EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager.



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