Microsoft and Apple: Bing and iMessage Should Be Exempt From New EU Law


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In September 2022, the EU signed the Digital Markets Act into law, laying down new rules to foster healthy competition among tech companies. Soon, the EU will declare which companies and services count as “gatekeepers,” and Microsoft and Apple are working to keep at least two services off that list: Bing and iMessage, respectively.

The EU’s Digital Markets Act promises to promote a “level playing field” in several sectors of tech: social networks, search engines, video-sharing platforms, operating systems, cloud systems, and more. First, it will designate gatekeeper companies and services. To qualify as a gatekeeper, a company or service must have an annual turnover of over €7.5 billion in the last three financial years. Additionally, the company or service must count at least 10% of the EU population as active users (currently around 45 million).

Once designated a gatekeeper, companies will have until March 6, 2024, to comply with new rules. Some rules prohibit sharing data between services at a singular company, like user data between Facebook and WhatsApp. Others would prohibit a company from promoting its products and services over competing solutions, such as Google Search showing YouTube results when searching for Hulu.

But even if a company is designated a gatekeeper, that doesn’t mean every service it owns automatically in those rules. The EU has some discretion to exempt certain services. That’s where Apple and Microsoft’s arguments come in. According to the Financial Times, the two companies have (separately) argued that iMessage and Bing are far too small to count as gatekeeper services. 

In the case of Microsoft, the company reportedly argues that it only gets 3% of the search engine market share and is far outstripped by Google. Apple doesn’t report iMessage numbers publicly, but it argues it doesn’t meet the active user threshold to count toward the rules. If the EU does list iMessage as a gatekeeper service, Apple could be compelled to open the messaging service up to rival chat apps, like WhatsApp.

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