EU Antitrust Regulators Accuse Apple of Breaching Tech Rules

EU antitrust regulators have accused Apple of violating EU tech regulations by restricting app developers from directing consumers to alternative offers, potentially leading to a substantial fine for the tech giant.

The European Commission, serving as the EU’s antitrust and technology overseer, conveyed its preliminary findings to Apple after commencing an investigation in March.

This charge against Apple marks the first enforcement action by the Commission under the Digital Markets Act, a significant legislation aimed at curbing the dominance of Big Tech companies and fostering fair competition for smaller players. The Commission has until March of next year to issue a final ruling on the matter.

EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager pointed out concerns with Apple’s recent terms, stating that they limit app developers’ ability to engage freely with users and to establish contracts independently. The Commission highlighted Apple’s restriction on steering customers solely through ‘link-outs,’ which redirects customers to external webpages for engaging in transactions, as a point of contention.

Moreover, the Commission criticized Apple for levying fees beyond what is deemed essential for facilitating customer acquisitions through the App Store, noting that such charges exceeded reasonable compensation levels.

Apple responded by highlighting adjustments made to comply with the DMA, ensuring that the majority of developers would not incur higher fees under the updated terms.

Additionally, the EU has initiated an inquiry into Apple’s revised contractual terms for third-party app developers and app stores to evaluate their necessity and proportionality. Potential breaches of the DMA may result in fines equivalent to up to 10% of a company’s global annual revenue.