Market Commentary

EU Regulators Probe Into Big Tech Possible Monopoly

Aisha Khan
26 Mar 2024 · 2 minutes read

On Monday, the European Union initiated inquiries into Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL:US), Apple Inc. (AAPL:US), and Meta Platforms Inc. (META:US) for potential breaches of the Digital Markets Act (DMA), to thwart any attempts by major tech companies to dominate their competitors unfairly. 

This move is the latest in a series of investigations into multiple big tech companies; the latter includes the 'Magnificent Seven' of the U.S. Stock market. Last year, Brussels categorized six companies - Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, Microsoft, and TikTok owner ByteDance - as "gatekeepers" according to the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

While the companies have assured that they were working hard to meet the DMA’s criteria - even involving thousands of engineers to finish the task - the EU expressed skepticism on Monday, March 25. 

For both Apple and Alphabet, a major issue cited was ‘steering’: Regulators were concerned that both are investigating whether company policies create barriers for app developers to communicate alternative offers or payment methods to users. Doing so can limit competition in the marketplace and also reduce options for users to choose from of their own accord. 

Additionally, regulators pointed out that both companies had a free structure for certain services. This would go against the DMA’s ‘free of charge’ clause. 

The issue was also followed through on Amazon, where concerns followed the ‘ranking’ system on the e-commerce platform. A spokesperson for AMZN however assured that the company was complying with the DMA.

Most recently, Rep. Michael McCaul reported his family members’ purchase and sale of both META and MSFT stocks.  Rep. Suzan DelBene and Rep. Ro Khanna sold MSFT shares on Feb 29 and Feb 2 respectively while Rep. Josh Gottheimer, himself a former MSFT exec, has been a consistent trader of the stock for years.