The Morning After: The EU is already investigating Apple, Meta and Google over fees and defensive policies


We had the first wave of changes and tweaks to Apple, Google and other big tech companies’ policies and services just before the EU’s sweeping Digital Markets Act (DMA) took a harder line against monopolistic behaviors and practices. See: third-party app stores with Apple, the option to pay for Facebook (haha!), the ability to choose your own default browser, search engine, and more.

But the EU isn’t quite satisfied. Alphabet and Apple, says the European Commission, have not sufficiently allowed “app developers to ‘steer’ consumers to offers outside the gatekeepers’ app stores, free of charge.”

The EC says Alphabet might still be leading users to Google-owned services like Google Flights. Apple may not be allowing users meaningful choice in selecting alternatives to default iOS services or preferences, such as the ability to uninstall any preloaded app.

In January, Apple announced changes to the App Store to comply with the DMA, including the ability to use alternative app marketplaces on iOS in the EU. Included in Apple’s updates was a new “core technology fee” of €0.50 developers will have to pay per user per year after the first million installs of an app — even if a user downloads the software from a third-party marketplace. Many of Apple’s rivals aren’t happy about the App Store changes. Some criticized the company’s fees for third-party payments in the US too.

— Mat Smith

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Under-14s are completely banned.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis just signed a bill into law with far stricter rules on how kids under 16 can use and access social media. The bill requires a parent or guardian’s consent for 14- and 15-year-olds to make an account or use a pre-existing account on a social media platform. The companies behind these platforms must also abide by requests to delete these accounts within five business days. Failing to do so could rack up major fines, as much as $10,000 for each violation. The bill doesn’t name any specific social media platforms but suggests any service that promotes “infinite scrolling” will have to follow the new rules. So yeah, the usual suspects.

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You will still have to pay for them.

Spotify has teamed up with content partners BBC Maestro, PLAYvirtuoso, Thinkific Labs Inc. and Skillshare to offer content in making music, getting creative, learning business and living healthily. The test courses are available only to UK users, with free and premium subscribers receiving at least two free lessons per course. The series will range from £20 ($25) to £80 ($101), regardless of a person’s subscription tier. The course content seems to be somewhere between Masterclass and LinkedIn Learning — make of that what you will.

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15 teens will advise the company.

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Last summer, TikTok said it planned to form a “youth council” of teens to advise the company as part of a broader push to beef up safety features for the app’s youngest users. That group is now official, just as TikTok contends with a bill that would force parent-company ByteDance to sell the app or face a ban in the United States. While it’s unclear how much influence TikTok’s youth council will ultimately wield over the company’s policies, it underscores just how important teens are to the platform. The company has tried to mobilize its users, many of them teens, to oppose the bill being discussed by the US government.

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