European regulators crack down on Big Tech
European regulators have launched a series of probes against Big Tech. In the latest one, Britain's media regulator asked the country's antitrust authority to investigate U.S. tech giants Amazon and Microsoft's dominance of the UK cloud market.
Here are some of the actions taken by European watchdogs to keep a tab on big technology companies:
Microsoft said in August it would unbundle chat and video app Teams from its Office product in a bid to avoid a possible EU antitrust fine, a month after the European Commission launched an investigation into its Office and Teams tie-up.
Meta Platforms offered in July to curb the use of competitors' advertising data for its Facebook Marketplace online classified service in an attempt to settle an EU antitrust investigation but regulators rebuffed it, people familiar with the matter said.
In May, Meta was hit with a record 1.2-billion euro ($1.27 billion) fine by the EU's lead privacy regulator for its handling of user information and given five months to stop transferring users' data to the United States.
EU regulators said in June that Alphabet's Google may have to sell part of its adtech business to address concerns about anti-competitive practices, threatening the company with its harshest regulatory penalty to date.
The EU competition watchdog last year accused Apple of restricting rivals' access to its tap-and-go technology, NFC, used for mobile wallets, making it difficult for them to develop rival services on Apple devices. The regulators have since continued their investigation.
In December 2022, Amazon settled three antitrust probes after it addressed the EU's concerns over its use of sellers' data.
In September, the EU picked out 22 so-called "gatekeeper" services run by Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, Microsoft and TikTok-owner ByteDance, giving them six months to comply with the provisions of its wide-ranging Digital Markets Act (DMA).
Britain's media regulator on 5 October asked the country's antitrust authority CMA to investigate Amazon and Microsoft's dominance of the UK cloud market, citing features that made it more difficult for businesses to switch or mix and match cloud providers. CMA will complete its investigation by April 2025.
The French competition authority raided Nvidia's local offices in the last week of September, the Wall Street Journal reported. The watchdog disclosed the raid on 27 September, but did not name the company beyond saying it was in the "graphics cards sector".
Nvidia declined to comment.
The antitrust authority in July said Apple may have violated regulations related to the utilisation of iPhone user data in advertising and could potentially misuse its dominant market position by imposing biased, unclear, and unfair conditions to handle user data.
The country's privacy watchdog said in July it was aware of OpenAI CEO Sam Altman's Worldcoin crypto project and that the legality of its biometric data collection "seems questionable as do the conditions for storing biometric data".
A German data watchdog has been investigating Worldcoin since late 2022. Worldcoin, which launched in July 2023, requires users to give their iris scans in exchange for a digital ID and, in some countries, free cryptocurrency.
Italy's antitrust agency said in May it had opened a probe into Apple for alleged abuse of its dominant position in the apps market.
In April, the watchdog took measures against Meta over an alleged abuse of its position in the country, in a probe involving the rights to music posted on the group's platforms.
OpenAI's ChatGPT chatbot was temporarily banned in Italy in March over concerns by the national data protection authority, but was made available to users again in April.
The antitrust authority said in March it had opened an investigation into TikTok for allegedly breaching its rules by allowing the publication of "dangerous content" inciting suicide, self-harm and poor nutrition.
The Dutch competition regulator on 2 October said it had rejected Apple's objections against fines of 50 million euros it had given the company over failure to comply with regulations aimed at limiting the dominant position of Apple's App Store. Apple will appeal the decision in Dutch courts.
A Polish watchdog said in September it was investigating OpenAI over a complaint that ChatGPT breaks European Union data protection laws.
Poland's competition and consumer protection authority in February accused Amazon's European arm of misleading sales and delivery practices.
Spain's antitrust watchdog in July fined Amazon and Apple for colluding to limit the online sale of devices from Apple and competitors in the country.
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