OpenAI and Apple deal raises questions about enforcement of EU antitrust rules – Euractiv

ChatGPT’s integration into Apple’s iOS operating service later this year could trigger a review of the enforcement of EU digital antitrust rules, according to a European Commission spokesman who spoke on Tuesday (June 11).

On Monday (June 10), ChatGPT developer OpenAI and US iPhone maker Apple announced a partnership. Under the agreement, Apple’s iOS, iPadOS and macOS operating systems will integrate the ChatGPT language model later this year. Therefore, Apple’s digital assistant Siri and its writing tools will be enriched with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.

In September 2023, Apple’s iOS was designated as an essential platform service under the EU’s Digital Competition Regulation – Digital Markets Act (DMA), and the service must now comply with a number of antitrust obligations.

The DMA and its processes are “quite flexible” and “can be updated as needed,” Competition Commission spokeswoman Lea Zuber said at a press conference on Tuesday (May 11) when asked by Euractiv.

“If (core platform) services change,” this could “be reflected in regulatory obligations,” Zuber said.

However, she also noted that “large language models are not on our list of essential platform services (Digital Markets Act).”

However, in DMA’s current application, “ChatGPT and other large language models could be integrated with core platform services, such as web search engines or virtual assistants,” which are on DMA’s list of core services, Zuber said.

The press release from both companies did not specify whether ChatGPT features will also be integrated into Apple’s Safari web browser, which was also designated an essential platform service by the Commission in September 2023.

However, Apple’s virtual assistant Siri, in which OpenAI functions will be integrated, has not been designated as a core service of the platform.

At the time of publication, OpenAI had not responded to Euractiv’s request for comment.

It is unclear whether Apple’s iOS antitrust obligations under the DMA will transfer to ChatGPT.

“Once the (ChatGPT) service is integrated (with Apple’s iOS), we will be able to make an assessment,” Zuber said.

Similar deals are also subject to increasing antitrust scrutiny. The Commission is currently considering opening a formal antitrust investigation into the €12 billion Microsoft-OpenAI partnership.

In the US, the Federal Trade Commission has opened an antitrust investigation into the Microsoft-OpenAI partnership and other similar transactions.

The UK competition authority is reviewing Amazon’s investment in artificial intelligence start-up Anthropic.

Antitrust thresholds in EU law

OpenAI may exceed certain thresholds set by the DMA due to its designation as a gatekeeper and its ChatGPT service as a core platform service, which will lead to further scrutiny.

For this to happen, the market value of the parent company of the platform’s core service should have been at least EUR 75 billion in the last fiscal year.

The service itself should also have at least 45 million monthly active users in at least three EU countries and over 10,000 active business users in the EU per year.

As reported in February this year, OpenAI’s market value was over EUR 80 billion ($86 billion). Bloomberg.

Euractiv could not confirm the number of monthly active ChatGPT users in the EU. CEO Sam Altman said that as of November 2023, the chatbot had 100 million weekly active users worldwide.

(edited by Rajnish Singh)

The EU Commission will investigate the Microsoft-OpenAI partnership

The European Commission announced on Tuesday (January 9) that it is investigating the nature of the relationship between multinational technology company Microsoft and ChatGPT developer OpenAI, as the latter’s recent removal and reinstatement as CEO highlighted the two companies’ close ties.

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