Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The European Union's move to open antitrust investigations of Apple Tuesday is a reminder that the attack against tech giants over their market power is not limited to America's borders.

Why it matters: Tech companies have historically faced some of their harshest criticism and judgments from Europe, though companies including Microsoft, Facebook and Google have been able to largely absorb the punishments levied. But a wider antitrust press by the EU could inform the accelerating U.S. probes, pry additional data and concessions from the companies, and add pressure on U.S. regulators to act.

Driving the news:

  • The EU announced formal antitrust investigations of Apple Tuesday for forcing app developers to use its proprietary system to offer in-app subscriptions — for which Apple takes a 30% cut— and for blocking developers from informing users of ways they can pay for in-app content that don't go through Apple.
  • Separately, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the European Commission is readying antitrust charges against Amazon, accusing the e-commerce giant of using data from third-party sellers to develop competing products.

"Antitrust enforcers seem to have finally woken up to the fact that having a few digital gatekeepers with power over their competitors is really problematic," Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, told Axios.

Context: Europe's moves come as federal and state antitrust agencies as well as lawmakers are already probing Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple in the U.S. for anticompetitive practices.

  • Some of the investigations are expected to lead to lawsuits this summer, while the House Judiciary Committee is pressuring tech company CEOs to testify next month as part of its tech antitrust review.

In Apple's case, the EU is looking into grievances that a number of firms have voiced for years.

  • Spotify complained to the EU last year accusing Apple of working to "deliberately disadvantage other app developers" by taking the 30% commission while facing no such such surcharge on its own apps. Apple Music competes with Spotify.
  • And just on Tuesday, Apple rejected an app update from Hey, a new email service from Basecamp, and threatened to pull it from the App Store altogether after it sought to direct customers to its own website to pay subscription fees. (Hey costs $99 a year.)
  • "It's clear they feel embolden[ed] to tighten the screws with no fear of regulatory consequences," tweeted Basecamp CTO David Heinemeier Hansson.
  • For its part, Apple said in a statement that it is "disappointing the European Commission is advancing baseless complaints from a handful of companies who simply want a free ride, and don't want to play by the same rules as everyone else." Apple also reported this week that the App Store drove $519 billion in billings and sales for outside companies last year.

The big picture: The EU has moved aggressively against U.S. tech companies in recent years. Yet its investigations have typically ended in fines that don't trigger major changes in company behavior.

  • The EU has leveled billions in antitrust fines against Google, for instance, but search rival DuckDuckGo argues the EU's remedy in its 2018 case against Google has been ineffective.
  • "They have a track record of undertaking investigations with really serious antitrust charges only to close them with a fine that simply becomes another line item in a company’s operating expense," Mitchell said.

Yes, but: If the EU learns from those past experiences and looks to bring greater structural changes to bear — or even delivers antitrust cases that are perceived as hard-hitting — that could up expectations for their American counterparts.

  • U.S. regulators in turn may be able to draw on evidence the Europeans collect to build their own case against domestic tech giants, despite having a narrower mandate than their EU counterparts.
  • "If by some definition the Europeans bring a big case, you don’t want to bring forth a small case," said William Kovacic, a former member of the Federal Trade Commission and director of the Competition Law Center at George Washington University. "It creates more pressure for the U.S. agencies to act and to act in a way that’s no less bold than the Europeans."

Go deeper

Sep 22, 2020 - Economy & Business

YouTube will use tech updates to better enforce age restrictions

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

YouTube said Tuesday that it has updated its technology to enable the tech giant to better enforce its age restriction policies.

Why it matters: The company has been criticized and penalized for its policies and architecture that displayed harmful content to kids and violated children's data privacy.

Scoop: Stephanie Murphy announcing challenge to Marco Rubio

Rep. Stephanie Murphy. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy is planning to announce a campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in early June, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Murphy is a proven fundraiser. Jumping in now would give her an early start to build her case for the Democratic nomination and potentially force Rubio and allied GOP groups to spend heavily to retain a seat in a state that’s trending Republican.

Inside the GOP's infrastructure strategy

Sen. Roger Wicker. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Top Republican senators are hoping the White House will make some sort of counteroffer to their infrastructure proposal when they meet with President Biden on Thursday, lawmakers and their aides tell Axios.

Why it matters: This is a sign of how serious the negotiations are, they say. In advance of the meeting, some of the senators are already publicly signaling the areas in which they have flexibility.