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The EU has launched a Digital Markets Act violation probe for Apple, Alphabet, and Meta

The European Union has started an investigation into possible compliance violations of its Digital Markets Act. The EU's regulatory body, the European Commission, has targeted Apple, Google's parent company Alphabet, and Facebook and Instagram's parent Meta.

In its press release, the EC says it will be looking at possible compliance issues with Apple and Alphabet for the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store, respectively. The agency says they will see if both companies are following the DMA's steering rules. Those rules require both app stores to set up ways for app developers to offer access to offers for consumers outside those stores.

Apple is also being investigated to see if it has violated the DMC's rules that were made so iOS device owners can easily uninstall apps, change default settings, and get choice screens if they want to use a different search engine or web browser.

The EC indicated it is looking into Google Search for DMA violations. The agency wants to see if Google's search results offer fair access for third parties instead of providing preferential results that primarily show Alphabet's own services, such as Google Shopping, Google Flights, and Google Hotels.

Finally, the EC is checking with Meta's recent decision to offer ad-free subscription plans for its Facebook and Instagram social networks in Europe. The EC says it will examine whether that business model complies with the DMA's rules, which require some companies like Meta "to obtain consent from users when they intend to combine or cross-use their personal data across different core platform services."

In addition to these formal investigations, the EC says it is gathering facts for possible additional probes. One will look into Apple's fee structure for allowing alternative app stores on iOS devices in Europe. The other will get information on Amazon to find evidence that it is offering advantages for its own products over third-party products in its online store. The EC is also asking Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft to keep any documents that concern DMA compliance.

The EC expects the formal investigations for Apple, Alphabet, and Meta to conclude within 12 months. If these probes do find DMA violations, the EC could impose fines that could affect 10 percent "of the company's total worldwide turnover" or even higher if the EC says there are repeated violations.

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