Apple and Microsoft Relieved from Stricter EU Rules: A Win for Tech Giants

Apple’s iMessage and Microsoft’s Bing search engine have received a reprieve from the European Union’s tougher regulations on how tech giants conduct their business. In accordance with a landmark law, starting next month, the EU will impose strict rules on the world’s largest digital firms, known as “gatekeepers.”

In September, the European Commission declared that Google’s Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, TikTok parent ByteDance, Facebook owner Meta, and Microsoft met the thresholds for mandatory compliance with the law. Additionally, the commission launched investigations to assess whether Apple’s iMessage, Microsoft’s Bing, Edge browser, and advertising service should also be classified as gatekeepers.

The EU’s executive arm, the European Commission, announced on Monday that Apple and Microsoft should not be designated as gatekeepers for these four services. In response, both companies expressed their gratitude for the decision. An Apple spokesperson stated, “We thank the Commission for agreeing with us that iMessage should not be designated under the DMA,” highlighting the availability of alternative messaging apps that offer easy switching between platforms.

Similarly, a Microsoft spokesperson welcomed the decision, emphasizing that Bing, Edge, and Microsoft Advertising operate as challengers in the market. They also pledged to work closely with the Commission and the industry to ensure compliance with the Digital Markets Act (DMA) for their other designated platforms.

The DMA aims to foster competition in the digital realm and includes provisions for interoperability between apps. This means that users should be able to message each other seamlessly across different platforms.

The EU has empowered itself with strong legal tools to tackle the dominance of internet giants, including the DMA and the Digital Services Act (DSA). The DSA places obligations on popular social networks and websites to increase content moderation and protect consumers during online shopping.

While Apple and Microsoft celebrate their exemption from stricter EU rules, the tech industry continues to navigate the evolving landscape of digital regulation. As the DMA and DSA come into effect, it remains to be seen how these regulations will shape competition and consumer protection in the digital sphere.