European authorities are raising alarms because Shazam has important data about Apple’s rivals, potentially allowing the company to “directly target its competitors’ customers and encourage them to switch” to Apple’s own streaming service, the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, said in a statement.
“Competing music streaming services could be put at a competitive disadvantage,” the commission said. It added that it wanted to prevent Apple from blocking Shazam from referring users to other music services.
The European Commission has until Sept. 4 to make a final decision on whether to block or approve the deal, or seek concessions from Apple.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The inquiry adds to the growing roster of cases in which European authorities are resisting the expanding power of global technology companies. Apple and Ms. Vestager’s competition office are already in the midst of a contentious fight over a 2016 ruling in which the iPhone maker was ordered to pay 13 billion euros, or about $15.9 billion, in back taxes to Ireland. Apple is appealing.
Ms. Vestager’s office has also fined a number of other tech giants, including Amazon, Facebook, Google and Qualcomm. And a new data protection law taking effect next month is expected to bring even more scrutiny.
Antitrust cases based on data will become more common as companies use customer information as a moat against competitors, according to Maurice Stucke, a law professor at the University of Tennessee, who has written in favor of broader enforcement of antitrust rules. He cited a potentially influential German investigation of Facebook over the use of data.
The European inquiries are likely to influence governments elsewhere in the world, Mr. Stucke said. Governments, wary of the technology industry’s power over the global economy, will develop rules to account for concerns that data can be used to build monopoly positions, even when companies buy businesses that wouldn’t initially seem to be consequential, he said.
“You’re seeing significant changes over the last three to four years on data, privacy and competition policy,” Mr. Stucke said. “It’s a sea change.”