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Business News/ Technology / EU launches probes into Apple, Meta, Google under new digital competition law
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EU launches probes into Apple, Meta, Google under new digital competition law

wsj

Investigations add to regulatory headaches for U.S. tech companies under growing scrutiny worldwide.

The suite of probes announced Monday are the first under the EU’s Digital Markets Act law, which took effect earlier this month. (Photo: Reuters)Premium
The suite of probes announced Monday are the first under the EU’s Digital Markets Act law, which took effect earlier this month. (Photo: Reuters)

BRUSSELS—The European Union has launched investigations into Apple, Meta Platforms and Google parent Alphabet under its sweeping new digital-competition law, adding to the regulatory scrutiny large U.S. tech companies are facing worldwide.

The suite of probes announced Monday are the first under the EU’s Digital Markets Act law, which took effect earlier this month. They come less than a week after the Justice Department sued Apple over allegations it makes it difficult for competitors to integrate with the iPhone, ultimately raising prices for customers.

Apple and Google will now face EU scrutiny of how they are complying with rules that say they must allow app developers to inform customers about alternative offers outside those companies’ main app stores. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said it is concerned about constraints the tech companies place on developers’ ability to freely communicate with users and promote their offers.

The bloc will also examine changes that Google made to how its search results appear in Europe. The new digital competition law says companies cannot give their own services preference over similar services that are offered by rivals.

Another probe will look at how Apple complies with rules that say users should be able to easily remove software applications and change default settings on their iPhones, as well as how the company shows choice screens that offer alternative search engine and browser options.

And the EU said it would also probe what regulators call Meta’s “pay or consent" plan, introduced last fall. Under that plan, European users who don’t agree to let the company use their digital activity to target the ads it shows on Instagram and Facebook must pay a monthly subscription fee of up to around $11.

The EU’s new law took effect earlier this month and requires some of the world’s largest technology companies to comply with a long list of new rules that aim to boost competition from smaller companies on digital advertising, online search and app ecosystems. Companies began presenting their compliance plans to regulators, app developers and rival businesses in a series of workshops held in Brussels last week.

Write to Kim Mackrael at kim.mackrael@wsj.com and Sam Schechner at Sam.Schechner@wsj.com

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