EU competition regulators are in the early stages of investigating voice assistants including Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, according to a new report from Reuters. This comes as Apple faces a probe into App Store In-App Purchase rules and Apple Pay in Europe, as well.
Today’s report explains that EU competition regulators are reaching out to 400 companies to research whether there are “problems in the market for voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri and other internet-connected devices that could lead to antitrust cases.”
In a statement, European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager explained that it “sends a strong message” to companies like Amazon and Apple to know that regulators are watching. The key focus, Vestager explained, is on interoperability:
It sends an important message to powerful operators in these market that we are watching them and that they need to do business in line with competition rules. Interoperability is of the essence if we want to make this market accessible.
Vestager explained that this probe was prompted by the large amounts of data involved in Internet of Things devices. The goal of the probe is to make sure that “market players did not use their control” of user to data to hurt the overall market competition or stifle rivals.
Apple has stringent privacy protections in place for Siri and connected HomeKit devices, so it will be interesting to see what sort of details this probe uncovers. Furthermore, Apple actually teamed up Samsung, Amazon, and others earlier this year to work toward an open standard for home security.
Apple is already under formal investigations in Europe over alleged anticompetitive behavior related to Apple Pay and In-App Purchase rules. This investigation focuses on whether Apple locked out competition contactless payment services as well as the 30% cut it takes of App Store transactions.
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