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Eu Strikes Apple With Charges Over App Store Restrictions

EU Strikes Apple with Charges Over App Store Restrictions

EU Strikes Apple with Charges Over App Store RestrictionsEU Strikes Apple with Charges Over App Store Restrictions
Apple store

Published On: June 25, 2024
 

  • EU regulators accuse Apple of breaching the Digital Markets Act through restrictive App Store practices
  • European Commission critiques Apple's continued restrictions and new "core technology fee" as potentially non-compliant with DMA
  • Apple faces potential fines of up to 10% of global revenue for violating EU tech regulations

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European Union regulators charge Apple with breaching the newly implemented Digital Markets Act (DMA), focusing heavily on the company’s restrictive practices within its App Store. This marks a significant escalation in the EU's efforts to curtail the influence of big tech companies and foster a more competitive digital marketplace.

The violations

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, announced that Apple's app store policies are in violation of the DMA, particularly highlighting the company's anti-steering rules. These rules prohibit app developers from directing users to alternative purchasing channels that are potentially cheaper and outside Apple's ecosystem. According to the EU, this practice prevents app developers from freely offering and promoting alternative deals directly to consumers.

This charge comes as part of a broader investigation initiated in March against tech giants, including Apple, Alphabet, and Meta. Apple, in particular, has attracted scrutiny for not allowing app developers to inform customers about less expensive services elsewhere, a significant component of the DMA's focus on enhancing transparency and consumer choice in digital markets.

Adjustments and response

In response to the DMA, Apple had already made adjustments to their App Store policies in Europe, allowing more flexibility for app installations from third-party sources. However, the European Commission has expressed concerns over Apple's new "core technology fee" and the restrictions still imposed on alternative app stores and direct app distributions. These lingering restrictions are viewed as potentially non-compliant with the DMA's objectives.

Should Apple be found guilty of these charges, the consequences for the tech giant are severe. They could face fines up to 10% of their global annual revenue, which could exceed $38 billion based on their last reported earnings. This fine could escalate to 20% for repeated offenses, underlining the EU's commitment to enforcing their new regulatory framework.

Apple’s defense

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, emphasized the importance of steering practices in ensuring less dependence on gatekeeper platforms like Apple's App Store. Apple, however, insists that their practices comply with the DMA and that the changes made have been in the interest of developers and consumers alike, offering competitive rates and more freedom than before.

Broader impact and future implications

This development is monumental for tech regulation in Europe and potentially globally as regulators worldwide watch the EU's aggressive moves against Big Tech. The outcome of this case could set a precedent, influencing how digital marketplaces operate and are regulated, ensuring they foster competitive practices that benefit both developers and consumers.

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