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Apple, Meta set to face EU charges under landmark tech rules, sources say

By Thomson Reuters Jun 14, 2024 | 12:48 PM

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Apple and Meta Platforms will likely face charges for failing to comply with landmark EU rules aimed at reining in their power before the summer, three people with direct knowledge of the matter said on Friday.

The European Commission, which launched investigations into the two companies and Alphabet’s Google in March under the Digital Markets Act (DMA), sees Apple and Meta as priority cases, the people said.

The DMA requires Big Tech to open up space for smaller rivals to compete and make it easier for people to move between competing online services like social media platforms, internet browsers and app stores.

EU regulators will issue preliminary findings which are similar to antitrust charges before the summer break in August, with Apple the first to be charged, followed by Meta, the sources said.

The Commission and Meta declined to comment. Apple referred to its March statement where it said that it was confident that its plan complies with the DMA and that it continues to constructively engage with the Commission.

Companies can offer remedies to address concerns laid out in the findings before a final decision expected before EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager leaves office in November, which could include fines up to 10% of a company’s global annual turnover for breaches.

The EU investigation targets Apple’s steering rules, which regulators say impose limitations that hinder app developers from informing users about offers outside its App Store free of charge, and also its new fees levied on apps developers.

EU regulators are expected to charge Apple related to this issue, the people said, adding that a second investigation focusing on its choice screen for its Safari web browser will likely take more time.

The preliminary finding on Meta focuses on its recently introduced pay or consent model where users pay a subscription fee for an ad-free Facebook and Instagram, the people said.

The FT was the first to report that Apple would face EU charges.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Jan Harvey)