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EU Opens Non-Compliance Investigations into Apple, Meta, and Google


Apple’s compliance with new EU laws designed to rein in the market power of big tech companies is set to be investigated by regulators, the European Commission has announced.


The Commission said on Monday that non-compliance investigations have been opened against Apple, Google, and Meta, under the new Digital Markets Act (DMA).

The probe into Apple will look at whether the company allows developers to “steer” users away from its App Store, as well as its default web browser choice screen. Google’s rules on steering in Google Play and self-preferencing in Google searches are also being looked at, as is Meta’s “pay or consent model.”

The Commission has opened proceedings to assess whether the measures implemented by Alphabet and Apple in relation to their obligations pertaining to app stores are in breach of the DMA. Article 5(4) of the DMA requires gatekeepers to allow app developers to “steer” consumers to offers outside the gatekeepers’ app stores, free of charge.

The Commission is concerned that Alphabet’s and Apple’s measures may not be fully compliant as they impose various restrictions and limitations. These constrain, among other things, developers’ ability to freely communicate and promote offers and directly conclude contracts, including by imposing various charges.

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The Commission has opened proceedings against Apple regarding their measures to comply with obligations to (i) enable end users to easily uninstall any software applications on iOS, (ii) easily change default settings on iOS and (iii) prompt users with choice screens which must effectively and easily allow them to select an alternative default service, such as a browser or search engine on their iPhones.

The Commission is concerned that Apple’s measures, including the design of the web browser choice screen, may be preventing users from truly exercising their choice of services within the Apple ecosystem, in contravention of Article 6(3) of the DMA.

The Commission said it is also taking other investigatory steps to gather facts and information to clarify whether Apple’s new fee structure and other terms and conditions for alternative app stores and distribution of apps from the web (sideloading) may be defeating the purpose of its obligations under the DMA.

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The Commission has also adopted five retention orders addressed to Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft, asking them to retain documents which might be used to assess their compliance with the DMA obligations. The Commission intends to conclude the proceedings opened today within 12 months.

In cases of infringement, the Commission can impose fines up to 10% of the company’s total worldwide turnover. Such fines can go up to 20% in case of repeated infringement under the DMA. The Commission also has the power to adopt “additional remedies” such as “obliging a gatekeeper to sell a business or parts of it,” or banning the company from acquisitions of additional services related to the non-compliance.

Apple earlier this month implemented several major changes to the way the ‌App Store‌ and apps operate in the EU in order to comply with the DMA. These changes are included in iOS 17.4, but are generally limited to countries that are in the European Union.



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