EU Exempts Apple iMessage, Microsoft Bing from New Tech Regulations

The European Union has excluded certain services like Apple’s iMessage and Microsoft’s Bing search engine from newly introduced strict regulations for Big Tech companies.

Background

The European Union has implemented landmark new rules to rein in anti-competitive behaviour by major technology companies such as Meta, Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft. The wide-ranging Digital Markets Act (DMA) came into effect from March 1st 2023 after years of debate on regulating Big Tech.

What are the New EU Tech Rules?

The wide-ranging Digital Markets Act (DMA) by the European Commission aims to curb anti-competitive behaviour by major tech giants termed ‘gatekeepers’. DMA provisions applicable from March 2023 require them to open their platforms for fairer digital markets.

Exempted Apple and Microsoft Offerings

After probes, regulators concluded that iMessage, Bing, Microsoft Edge browser and Microsoft Advertising do not constitute as gatekeeper services that weaken competition. Hence they got exempted from forced interoperability and data sharing obligations under the DMA.

The Commission also said that Apple’s App Store, iOS operating system and Safari browser will continue to be classified as gatekeepers as will Microsoft’s LinkedIn social network and Windows operating system.

Rationale for Exemptions

The EU said thorough assessment of companies’ arguments and stakeholder inputs guided the carve-outs. For iMessage, easy consumer switching to alternative chat apps indicated lack of ‘gatekeeper’ control. Bing and Edge were viewed as challengers to Google’s dominance in search and browsers.

Remarks from Tech Companies

Apple welcomed the decision, stating many users simultaneously opted for diverse messaging platforms reflecting easy switchability. Microsoft said Bing and its other exempted products operate as competitors in their segments.

Other Services Stay Under DMA Scope

However, oversight of Apple’s App Store, iOS, Safari and Microsoft’s LinkedIn and Windows by EU authorities will continue as mandated by DMA for their gatekeeping status. The firms need to ensure compliance.

The Coalition for Open Digital Ecosystems (CODE), whose members include Google, Meta Platforms and Qualcomm, disagreed with the Commission’s decision to exempt services such as iMessage.


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