In ‍recent news, the European Commission (EC) has opened investigations into three of the Big Six tech gatekeepers due to suspicions‌ of non-compliance ⁢with the Digital Markets Act (DMA). The penalties⁢ for these offenses could be severe, with initial offenses potentially costing the company 10 percent of its global revenue, and subsequent ⁤violations doubling that amount. For a company like Apple, this could mean a fine of over $35 billion.

DMA Investigations ‍into Google, Apple, and Meta

The EC has suspicions that Google Play is breaking ⁤anti-steering rules with its app ⁤store‍ and that Google Search continues to “self-preference” Alphabet’s services in search results. Apple ‍faces a ⁢similar charge of steering in the App Store, but the EC also believes it is skirting requirements that allow users to pick their‍ default apps. Lastly, Meta’s ad-free subscription model⁢ might be a “pay or consent” scheme to avoid user-privacy violations.

Commission Vice President of Competition Policy Margrethe ⁢Vestager stated, “We suspect that the suggested solutions put forward by the‌ three companies do not fully comply with the DMA. We⁤ will now investigate the companies’ compliance with the DMA to ensure open and⁣ contestable digital markets in Europe.”

Document Retention Orders

The EC has ordered the companies to “retain ​certain documents” so it can ⁢review them to determine if they comply with the law. Amazon and Microsoft also received retention orders, but the Commission stopped ​short of investigating ⁢them. It​ seems that Bytedance is the only gatekeeper that is not under a microscope.

Meta’s Ad-Free Subscription Model

One of ‍the more interesting aspects of⁤ these investigations is the EC’s interest in Facebook’s ad-free subscription offering. Under this model, users can pay a fee to disable advertising on Facebook and⁣ Instagram. However, EC Commissioner Thierry Breton has indicated that⁤ this could be seen as a “pay or consent” scam.

“The DMA is very clear: gatekeepers must obtain users’ consent to use their personal ⁢data across different services,” Breton said in a separate statement. “And this consent must be free!”

If the EC rules that Meta’s ad-free subscription is unlawful, it could have implications for⁤ other​ subscription services with ad-free tiers. The outcome of this investigation will be ⁤closely watched.

The⁤ probes‍ come as no surprise, as competitors have been complaining about Big Tech’s efforts – most notably Apple’s – to implement DMA compliance policies since the beginning of ‌the year. The EC expects its ‌investigations ⁤to conclude within 12 months.