In the latest instalment of the Cleary Gottlieb Antitrust Review podcast, host Nick Levy is joined by Saverio Valentino, Board member of the Italian Antitrust Authority. The conversation covers Saverio’s first year in the role, the agency’s current priorities, merger control and FDI regulation, cartel enforcement, rights of defence, judicial review, and much more.

On March 4, 2024, the Commission fined Apple €1.8 billion—its first ever antitrust fine imposed on Apple and third largest ever—for abusing its dominant position on the market for the distribution of music streaming apps to iPhone and iPad users (“iOS users”) through its App Store (“Decision”).[1]

On February 27, 2024, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) published its roadmap for 2024-2025 as every year,[1] outlining its enforcement priorities for the year ahead.  The FCA emphasized the need to take action in the same key areas of interest as in 2023[2]: (i) the digital economy, (ii) sustainability and the ecological transition, and (iii) the protection of purchasing power. 

On 24 January 2024, the Department for Business and Trade announced that fake reviews and unavoidable hidden or “dripped” charges will be added to the list of banned practices under consumer law in the UK.  The amendments are intended “to ensure customers can compare purchases with ease, aren’t duped by fake reviews, and have the sting of hidden fees taken away.”[1]

On 1 February 2024, the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) published a report on a 2023 stocktaking of direct financial services offered by BigTechs[1] in the EU (the Report).  

The Report highlights certain characteristics of BigTech firms, in particular various types of inter-dependencies between BigTechs’ non-financial and financial services offerings, and identifies opportunities and risks flowing from these inter-dependencies. It also records national competent authorities’ supervisory and regulatory observations as well as some initial suggestions how these could be addressed. Lastly, it states that, as a next step, the ESAs will establish a “multi-faceted data matrix” to enhance their monitoring of BigTech firms.

On February 9, 2024, the General Court[1] dismissed an application from ByteDance Ltd (“ByteDance”), the parent company of social media platform TikTok, to suspend the Commission decision[2] designating ByteDance as a “gatekeeper” under the Digital Markets Act (“DMA”).[3]  ByteDance had argued that compliance with the restrictions on combining data between services (Article 5(2) DMA) and the obligation to provide the Commission with an “independently audited description” of TikTok’s profiling techniques (Article 15 DMA), would lead to serious and irreparable harm.[4]  The General Court found that ByteDance had failed to establish such harm to the requisite standard.  While the General Court order offers little insight into the substantive debate on the scope of the DMA, it showcases the hurdles gatekeepers have to overcome to seek interim relief from the DMA before the European Courts.