Apple’s deal for Shazam draws ‘in-depth investigation’ from Europe

Apple's deal for Shazam draws 'in-depth investigation' from Europe

Apple’s agreement to buy Shazam is the subject of an “in-depth investigation” by the European Commission.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager announced the probe on Monday, writing: “The way people listen to music has changed significantly in recent years, with more and more Europeans using music streaming services. Our investigation aims to ensure that music fans will continue to enjoy attractive music streaming offers and won’t face less choice as a result of this proposed merger.”

Apple agreed to buy UK-based music recognition app Shazam in December, a rare acquisition for the secretive iPhone maker. Shazam’s data is the primary area of concern for European consumers, European regulators said on Monday.

“Access to such data could allow Apple to directly target its competitors’ customers and encourage them to switch to Apple Music. As a result, competing music streaming services could be put at a competitive disadvantage,” regulators said.

The European Commission has a September deadline for the investigation.

The investigation isn’t the first tussle between the European Commission and Apple. The two are in an ongoing dispute over Apple low tax rate in Ireland. But data security has been an issue that Apple typically prides itself on, compared to advertising-based businesses like Google and Facebook: Cook even called for more “well-crafted” regulations around data privacy in a talk last month.

Earlier this year, Vestager told CNBC that the EU is trying to act quickly to close investigations of technology companies as “society develops faster and faster.”

“We have learned a lot in the last couple of years, not only from the antitrust cases, but also from fake news and AI,” Vestager said in February. “And we are seeing sort of more and more the fuller picture. And in the commission we’re drafting new proposals both on the platform to business relationship, or business to platform relationship, on how to deal with illegal content, and how to deal with copyright issues in order to use this now more fuller picture to sort of make the regulatory framework so we do not get into a situation where we have sort of a Wild West, since it is about the entire society what’s going on right now.”

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