Apple, Meta, Google to face EU Digital Markets Act probes, sources say

Illustration shows Apple logo

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Apple, Meta Platforms and Alphabet's Google are set to be investigated for potential violations of the European Union's Digital Markets Act (DMA) that could lead to hefty fines by the end of the year, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.

The European Commission will likely announce the investigations, either at the same time or one after the other rapidly, in the coming days and issue decisions before EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager's term ends in November, they said.

DMA breaches could cost the companies as much as 10% of their global annual turnover. The landmark EU tech rule requires companies to give users and rivals more choices to ensure a level playing field.

The Commission declined to comment. Apple, Meta and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Earlier this week, Vestager in an interview told Reuters Apple and Meta's new fees for their services may hinder users from enjoying the benefits of the DMA, and that this was going to be part of any investigation.

She also singled out tactics used by some companies to disparage rival products or services to discourage users switching to them, saying it was unwise for companies to do so.

Vestager also said she wanted to speed up any DMA investigations, aiming to get decisions out preferably in six months so that users and apps developers can see the fruits of the new rules soon. Traditional EU antitrust probes in contrast take years.

Rivals of the three companies have shared frustrations with the EU competition enforcer, saying measures announced by the companies to re-wire their core platform services are inadequate.

The DMA requires the three companies, as well as Microsoft, and TikTok owner ByteDance to allow users to remove any pre-installed software or app if they want, and to get users' consent to use their data across their various services or for personalised ads.

The companies are not allowed to favour their services or products over rivals on their platforms.

Bloomberg was the first to report the imminent DMA investigations into Apple, Meta and Google.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee in Brussels; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne, Matthew Lewis and Bill Berkrot)