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Factbox-US takes on Apple as efforts to curtail Big Tech gather momentum

FILE PHOTO: The Apple Inc. logo is seen in the lobby of New York City's flagship Apple store

(Reuters) - Apple was on Thursday sued by the U.S. Department of Justice, the latest antitrust action against Big Tech firms accused by regulators of operating monopolies and abusing their power.

The case is the fifth by the U.S. government aimed at reining in tech giants. Below are some such actions and other lawsuits:

APPLE

The U.S. Justice Department has been probing Apple since 2019 and alleged on Thursday that the company has imposed software and hardware limitations on its iPhones and iPads to impede rivals from effectively competing.

The California-based firm is also under regulatory scrutiny in Europe and was earlier this month hit with a 1.84 billion euro ($2 billion) fine for thwarting competition from music streaming rivals through restrictions on its App Store.

Apple is appealing the penalty but faces more scrutiny under the bloc's Digital Markets Act — new rules for Big Tech that went into effect earlier this month.

Other lawsuits include a class action filed on March 1 in San Jose, California federal court accusing the company of monopolizing the market for cloud storage in its mobile devices.

ALPHABET

The evidentiary phase of a court battle between Google and the U.S. government wrapped up in November. In the trial, which started on Sept. 12, the Justice Department sought to prove that Google is a monopolist and illegally abused its power to favor its bottom line.

The case, filed by the Trump administration, was the first of five aimed at reining in tech giants.

Google was in February hit with a 2.1-billion-euro lawsuit by 32 media groups including Axel Springer and Schibsted, alleging that they had suffered losses due to the company's practices in digital advertising. Last month, Google also asked a U.S. judge to throw out a jury verdict in a lawsuit by "Fortnite" maker Epic Games that found the technology giant had abused its market dominance in setting rules for its app store. Epic Games had prevailed in the high-profile antitrust trial that if it holds could upend the entire app store economy.

META PLATFORMS

An appeals court ruled earlier this month that Meta cannot stop the U.S. Federal Trade Commission from reopening a probe into its Facebook unit's privacy practices for now. The company had objected, citing the $5 billion fine it paid and range of safeguards it had agreed.

In October, dozens of U.S. states sued Meta and its Instagram unit, accusing them of fueling a youth mental health crisis by making their social media platforms addictive.

The company was hit with a record 1.2 billion euro fine by its lead European Union privacy regulator in May 2023 over its handling of user information and given five months to stop transferring users' data to the U.S.

AMAZON.COM

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed a long-awaited antitrust lawsuit against Amazon.com in September, charging the company with harming consumers with higher prices.

The FTC has also filed other lawsuits against the company, including one accusing the e-commerce giant of duping "millions of consumers" into purchasing subscriptions for Prime services.

($1 = 0.9178 euros)

(Reporting by Priyanka.G, Jaspreet Singh and Yuvraj Malik in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)