Apple Responds to Being Labelled ‘Gatekeeper’ by the EU
In a landmark move today, the European Commission has designated six major tech companies as ‘gatekeepers’ under the Digital Markets Act (DMA).
Apple, alongside Alphabet, Amazon, ByteDance, Meta, and Microsoft, are among the named firms. They now face a six-month deadline to ensure complete compliance with the DMA obligations relating to their core platform services.
The designation followed a 45-day review by the Commission which assessed the status of several digital platforms. Seven companies, including Samsung, initially alerted the Commission to their potential status as gatekeepers. However, following the review, only six were officially designated.
Apple is under investigation regarding its iMessage service. The Commission is examining Apple’s claim that, despite meeting the DMA thresholds, iMessage shouldn’t be regarded as a gateway. Another investigation is in progress to determine whether Apple’s iPadOS should also receive the gatekeeper title, even though it currently does not meet the established thresholds.
The company responded to the EU decision by telling iMore in a statement, “We remain very concerned about the privacy and data security risks the DMA poses for our users. Our focus will be on how we mitigate these impacts and continue to deliver the very best products and services to our European customers.”
“iMessage is a great service that Apple users love because it provides an easy way to communicate with friends and family while offering industry-leading privacy and security protections. Consumers today have access to a wide variety of messaging apps, and often use many at once, which reflects how easy it is to switch between them. iMessage is designed and marketed for personal consumer communications, and we look forward to explaining to the commission why iMessage is outside the scope of the DMA,” said Apple in its statement.
Notably, Samsung escaped designation entirely. While Gmail, Outlook.com, and Samsung Internet Browser met initial DMA thresholds, arguments presented by Alphabet, Microsoft, and Samsung convinced the Commission that these services do not act as gateways for their core platform services.
As gatekeepers, these tech giants will face rigorous oversight. Some DMA obligations will take effect immediately, and the companies have six months to present a comprehensive compliance report. If non-compliance is detected, these firms could face hefty fines, ranging from 10% of their global turnover and potentially escalating to 20% for repeat offences. Extreme cases might even see the Commission forcing gatekeepers to sell parts of their business.
In addition to today’s designations, the Commission remains open to future notifications from other companies, maintaining ongoing discussions to ensure fair and contestable digital markets in Europe.
The DMA, operational since May 2023, is a bold European initiative to ensure fairness and openness in the digital domain by preventing gatekeepers from imposing unjust conditions on businesses and consumers.
“With today’s designation we are finally reining in the economic power of 6 gatekeepers, giving more choice to consumers and creating new opportunities for smaller innovative tech companies… It was high time that Europe sets the rules of the game upfront, to ensure digital markets are fair and open,” said Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton in a statement.