More than 200 companies express concerns about anti-competitive practices

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BRUSSELS - A year-long inquiry into voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri and other internet-connected devices has led to more than 200 companies expressing concerns of potential anti-competitive practices on Wednesday, the EU antitrust regulators said.

The European Commission has opened similar inquiries into sectors like financial services and energy that ultimately led to cases against companies and significant fines in the past.

Amazon's Alexa, Google Assistant and Alphabet's Siri are among the most popular assistant devices available.

When we opened this sector enquiry, we were concerned that there may be a risk of gatekeepers emerging in this sector, European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

From the first results announced today, it appears that many in the sector share our concerns, she said.

The EU antitrust watchdog said respondents cited concerns about certain exclusivity and tying practices related to voice assistants and the position of intermediaries between users and smart devices.

They also raised concerns about the extensive access of providers of voice assistants and other devices to troves of data and the lack of interoperability between devices, with proprietary technology acting as de facto standards.

The Commission said that the findings of the inquiry would be open to a 12 week public consultation through Sept. 1 with a final report due in the first half of 2022.

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