EU Regulator Raise Concerns Over Anti-Competitive Practices By Big Tech Firms Through Voice Assistants

EU Regulator Raise Concerns Over Anti-Competitive Practices By Big Tech Firms Through Voice AssistantsAmazon Echo Devices. Representative Image (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

European Union’s (EU) antitrust regulators have raised apprehensions over prospective anti-competitive practices driven by the sheer market dominance maintained by Alphabet’s Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri.

The European Commission has arrived at the reported inferences following a year-long investigation into internet-connected devices and the aforementioned voice assistants. Moreover, it has also received responses on the same from over 200 companies.

“We saw indications that some practices that we know too well may lead to tipping and to the emergence of gatekeepers. And from the preliminary results published today, it appears that our concerns are shared by many players,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager was quoted in a report by Reuters.

Vestager further revealed that whether this report would lead to cases against the concerned companies will only be decided following the 12 week-long public consultations on 1st September 2021.

There are primarily three concerns that the EU antitrust watchdog has raised against the voice assistants.

Firstly, providers of these voice assistant services tend to promote their services and that of third parties through default settings on the devices, which is perceived as a move to restrict their rivals.

Similarly, producers of smart devices are also prohibited from installing another voice assistant on the device to possibly develop specific exclusivity and tying practices to bind users to only one of such applications.

Furthermore, the absence of interoperability between devices and heaps of data stored with the voice assistant providers are seen as issues as well. Meanwhile, Vestager has put forward the Digital Markets Act, which consists of certain tough regulations that target and subsequently curb detailed practices.