Digital markets: the EU aims its new weapon at Apple, Alphabet and Meta

New confrontation between the EU and American digital companies. The European Commission on Monday launched proceedings against Apple, Alphabet (Google) and Meta (Facebook, Instagram) for alleged infringements of European competition rules, a novelty within the framework of the new Digital Markets Regulation (DMA).

Brussels has been talking for months with the three American Internet giants about their plan to comply with the rules that came into force at the beginning of March. After years of running in vain after their abuse of a dominant position, due to insufficiently dissuasive legislation, the European executive hopes to have provided the DMA with a weapon powerful enough to subdue them.

The new regulation provides for fines of up to 20% of global turnover in the event of serious and repeated infringement (compared to 10% until now).

Several open investigations

The Commission thus opens an investigation against Alphabet, suspected of having exploited the quasi-monopoly of its search engine Google to favor, thanks to better referencing, its own price comparison services to the detriment of its competitors in searches for hotels, airline tickets or others. consumer goods sold online. Google was already fined 2.4 billion euros in 2017 for this reason.

Alphabet and Apple are also facing restrictions on their Google Play and App Store app stores. According to the Commission, both groups “limit the ability of developers to freely communicate and promote their offers and enter into contracts directly” with end users, “including by imposing various fees.”

Meta, a social media giant, is being attacked for failing to comply with the rule that requires it to request user consent to be able to combine personal data from its different services for the purposes of creating advertising profiles.

“We are not convinced”

The European executive hopes to conclude these procedures within a maximum period of 12 months. “We can already see changes in the market. But we are not convinced that the solutions proposed by Alphabet, Apple and Meta meet their obligations,” declared European Commissioner for Digital Affairs, Thierry Breton.

On Thursday, the American government also sued Apple for monopolistic practices due to the limitations imposed by the Californian group on application developers. Brussels has opened another procedure against Apple for an alleged failure to comply with the obligation to offer users the possibility of easily uninstalling the default applications of the iOS operating system with which their famous iPhones are equipped.

Following the Commission’s decision, the technology lobby denounced the “rush” on the part of the EU.

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