EU opens non-compliance investigations against Alphabet, Apple and Meta under the Digital Markets Act

It turns out Apple, Facebook, and Google were not as clever with their malicious compliance with the European Union’s DMA as they thought they were, as the European Commission has opened investigations into their compliance plans. Especially Apple, who has been most public about its malicious compliance, seems to be the target.

Today, the Commission has opened non-compliance investigations under the Digital Markets Act (DMA) into Alphabet’s rules on steering in Google Play and self-preferencing on Google Search, Apple’s rules on steering in the App Store and the choice screen for Safari and Meta’s “pay or consent model”.

The Commission suspects that the measures put in place by these gatekeepers fall short of effective compliance of their obligations under the DMA.

In addition, the Commission has launched investigatory steps relating to Apple’s new fee structure for alternative app stores and Amazon’s ranking practices on its marketplace. Finally, the Commission has ordered gatekeepers to retain certain documents to monitor the effective implementation and compliance with their obligations.

↫ European Commission press release

This is entirely unsurprising. Google’s and Facebook’s compliance plans were less scrutinised in the press, but all still raised questions about whether they would pass mustard. Apple’s plans, meanwhile, were universally seen as deeply malicious and not compliant, and it seems the European Commission agrees. Apple’s continuous wild, flailing attacks on the EU and the DMA certainly aren’t helping, either.

There’s no denying Apple’s behaviour has been deeply unprofessional and anti-European Union, which contrasts strongly with how Apple and Tim Cook operate in China, where they face much stricter rules than they do in the EU. Tim Cook is currently in China praising and buttering up to the Chinese totalitarian regime, while the company has been attacking the European Union and DMA almost non-stop for months now. It really shows where Apple’s priorities lie.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s pay-for-privacy model was always going to be a hard sell at €10 a month, and as such, the company already announced it was going to cut that cost in half. Google’s plans are a bit more nebulous, since it’s a bit more difficult to see tangible results from things like search rankings, but it seems here, too, the European Commission has its worries about compliance.

The European Commission intends to complete its investigations within a year, and if found in violation of the law, companies can be fined for up to 10% of their worldwide turnover, which can grow up to 20% for repeated infringements.


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