The EU Still Finds Big Tech’s Practices Anti-Competitive

anti-competitive practices, eu, european commission, european union, apple, amaon, microsoft, meta, bytedance

Big Tech’s changes are seen as meager attempts at pacifying the EU, which wants to end its anti-competitive practices.

  • Microsoft is looking at an antitrust fine if it does not do a greater job of separating Teams from Office.
  • Apple has been charged with breaching the DMA with its “surface-level” changes.

The European Union (EU) still deems Big Tech’s practices anti-competitive, refusing to settle for minimal effort.

Over the last decade or two, we’ve seen several companies engage in anti-competitive behavior which prevents and, at times, reduces competition in a market. Some drove competitors out of the market by offering the same product at an incredibly low price. Others bundle their products together, forcing the user to buy all of them rather than just one.

While these practices benefit companies, economies thrive best when fair competition is respected. Ideally, every business should have a chance to take off rather than be suffocated by the bigger companies. In that spirit, and after years of allowing them to run rampant, the European Union has recently decided to reign in Big Tech companies, forcing them to change their anti-competitive practices.

I Bid Thee a Gatekeeper

Last September, the European Commission officially designated six tech companies as gatekeepers under its Digital Markets Act (DMA). The titles went to Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company), and Meta. At the time, the Commission gave them until the beginning of March 2024 to modify their anti-competitive practices and bring their operations into compliance.  


Alphabet’s alterations revolved around many of its subsidiary, Google, offerings. According to their blog post, the company decided to apply changes to Search results, consent to link Google services, and third-party applications and app stores, among other things.


For its part, Amazon, specifically Amazon Ads, is changing its pricing reports to provide more detailed data on fees paid by advertisers and received by publishers for ads shown on third-party sites and apps. The DMA gatekeeper also updated its advertising choices and consent mechanisms. For the most part, Amazon’s changes focused on preventing self-preferencing and ensuring fair competition.


Apple begrudgingly complied by changing its rules surrounding third-party applications and app stores. It also now allows developers to use third-party payment services within their apps or link users to their websites to process payments. There are more, with most focusing on making developers’ lives easier.


Meta focused its efforts on offering Instagram and Facebook users within the EU, European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland new options for data-sharing management. The tech giant also introduced a subscription that allows users to opt out of seeing ads.


Users in the EEA can now uninstall Microsoft OneDrive, Edge, and Bing, among other Windows-related changes. As for LinkedIn, the new APIs enable third-party developers and page administrators to access user data, fostering greater data portability and interoperability.

Far from Impressed

These changes in anti-competitive practices seem compliant with the EU DMA regulations, right? Well, the EU does not think so.

Despite separating Teams from the rest of its Office product, Microsoft is facing a hefty antitrust fine because the two are still linked. According to the Commission, Microsoft gave the chat and video app a distribution advantage. And the difficulties of competitors interacting with Teams are hindering the competition. In brief, the EU is unsatisfied with the changes so far and Microsoft needs to do more or risk paying almost 10% of its annual global turnover in fines.

Back in March, the EU launched an investigation into Apple, Alphabet, and Meta over possible violations of the DMA. The Commission is specifically looking into anti-steering on Google and Apple’s app stores, ensuring that users can uninstall pre-installed apps as well as Google Search and Safari’s self-preferencing. Meta’s “pay or consent model” for the ads is also under fire, and the EU does not believe it enables free consent. The Commission is also looking into Amazon’s marketplace ranking practices.

Where Apple is concerned, the EU is skeptical about whether the changes are genuine or just surface-level attempts at pacifying the antitrust regulators. In a first, the regulators charged Apple earlier this week for not changing its anti-competitive practices enough. EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said in a conference, “As they stand, we think that these new terms do not allow app developers to communicate freely with their end users, and to conclude contracts with them.” The final EU decision in this Apple antitrust case is marked for March 2025.

The jury is still out on the rest of the gatekeepers.

Won’t Settle

One company we have not mentioned here yet is ByteDance. That’s because its compliance workshop challenged the DMA, believing that it should be exempt. When you combine ByteDance’s stalling with the rest of the gatekeepers’ technical solutions to their anti-competitive practices, you start to see that Big Tech is not taking the DMA seriously enough, like a child that was asked to clean their room but shoved everything out of sight instead. The only way the EU DMA will be effective is if the EU manages to see through these companies’ smoke-and-mirrors strategies.

Final Thoughts

After years of users more or less suffering from Big Tech’s anti-competitive practices and behaviors, the EU finally decided to do something about it. While the companies, unwilling to retract their products from the EU, can’t outright refuse to comply, their attempts test if they can get away with only surface-level compliance. However, it looks like the Commission is more conscious of Big Tech’s tricks.

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