The European Commission (EC) opened investigations into Apple, Alphabet and Meta Platforms over alleged unfair market practices, outlining concerns the three technology giants fell short of conforming with its Digital Markets Act (DMA).

In a statement, the EC explained the probes will target anti-steering rules imposed by Apple and Alphabet on their respective online marketplaces designed to deter app developers from freely promoting services outside their ecosystem, on top of “self-preferencing” methods deployed by the companies to favour their own offerings.

The authorities said its investigation against Alphabet will determine whether Google search results “may lead to self-preferencing in relation to Google’s vertical search services” over similar rival offerings, with Google Shopping and Google Flights cited as examples.

The probe will also study Apple’s “design of the web browser choice screen”, as Safari was set as the default browser app on its devices.

Under the proceedings, the EC said it will investigate whether the iPhone-maker complies with its DMA obligations, including to enable users to “easily change default settings” or uninstall any software apps on iOS, as well as allow customers to choose alternative default services. It will also investigate Apple’s new app store practices.

For Meta Platforms, the EC will look into the company’s recently introduced “pay or consent” model, which requires users to subscribe to ad-free versions of its social media platforms or consent to having their data tracked.

Speaking at a press conference announcing the probes, Margrethe Vestager, EVP in charge of digital policy at the EC (pictured, left), described the cases as serious and were “emblematic of what the DMA is supposed to deliver when it comes to choice for consumers”.

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Had we been able to resolve that with a mere discussion, they would have been solved by now.

Margrethe Vestager – EVP in charge of Digital Policy European Commission

The EC said it intends to conclude the investigation within a year. If breaches are found, the EC can impose a fine worth up to ten per cent of the company’s total worldwide turnover, which can go up to 20 per cent in case of repeated infringement.

Last week, the US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Apple over abusive market practices and monopoly