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E.U. Takes Aim at Alphabet, Apple and Meta in Wide-Ranging Investigations

E.U. Takes Aim at Alphabet, Apple and Meta in Wide-Ranging Investigations

The inquiries signal the bloc’s intention to tightly enforce sweeping new competition rules that took effect this month.

Alphabet, Apple and Meta were told by European Union regulators on Monday that they were under investigation for a range of potential violations of the region’s new competition law.

The inquiries are the first that regulators have announced since the Digital Markets Act took effect on March 7, and they signal the bloc’s intention to tightly enforce the sweeping competition rules. The law requires Alphabet, Apple, Meta and other tech giants to open up their platforms so smaller rivals can have more access to their users, potentially affecting app stores, messaging services, internet search, social media and online shopping.

The investigations in Brussels add to the regulatory scrutiny facing the largest tech companies and show growing alignment between the United States and Europe on the need to crack down on the firms for anticompetitive behavior.

Last week in Washington, the Justice Department sued Apple for breaking antitrust laws with practices that were intended to keep customers reliant on their iPhones and less likely to switch to a competing device. Amazon, Google and Meta are also facing federal antitrust lawsuits.

E.U. investigators said they wanted to study whether Apple and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, were unfairly favoring their own app stores to box out rivals, particularly restrictions that limit how app developers can communicate with customers about sales and other offers. Google is also being investigated over the display of search results in Europe, while Meta will be questioned about a new ad-free subscription service and the use of data for selling advertising.

The European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, can fine the companies up to 10 percent of their global revenue, which for each runs into the hundreds of billions of dollars annually. The commission has 12 months to complete its investigations.

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