May 26, 2022

Fines for Apple in the Netherlands have reached their highest possible (for now) since the antitrust ruling on payment technology for dating apps – the regulator’s tenth straight time from €5 to €50 million (~$55 million). continued non-compliance after the imposition of a fine.

But the Dutch Consumer and Markets Authority (ACM) looks more positive today as Apple revised its latest proposal yesterday, arguing that the revised proposal “should lead to final terms for dating app providers.”

Once all the details are received, the regulator said it would seek feedback from the market and decide shortly if the offer is acceptable or not. However, it does not indicate how long the review might take, nor any details about the revised proposal. It also warns that Apple could face additional sanctions if the revised proposal is still deemed unacceptable. So the epic, which has been going on for many months, may not be over yet.

Apple’s previous proposals were dismissed by ACM as undue friction with developers.

The Dutch regulator said in a statement today: “ACM appreciates Apple’s current move. The revised proposal should result in fixed terms for dating app providers wishing to use the App Store. As soon as the final terms proposal is received, ACM will present it to market participants for consultation. ACM will then decide as soon as possible whether Apple complies with ACM’s requirement that alternative payment methods be available on dating apps while these final terms are in effect.

“As of last weekend, Apple was still not ACM compliant. Therefore, he will have to pay the tenth fine, which means that Apple will have to pay the maximum fine of 50 million euros. “If the ACM concludes that Apple is not compliant, the ACM may issue another cease and desist order (this time, possibly with a larger penalty) to encourage Apple to continue to comply with the order.

Apple has been contacted for a response.

The public tug-of-war over ACM’s legal right to use non-Apple payment technology to process local dating app digital content sales has been going on since January, although ACM’s order dates back to last year (But Apple’s lawsuit limited its public coverage to last ).

Although the case seems almost ridiculously narrow – a subset of applications in the small European market where the ACM has the power to issue such injunctions – in the process of reforming Europe-wide digital competition law known as the Digital Market Act (DMA). In addition to other “rules and don’ts” for veteran Gatekeepers, such as your own preference.

Thus, the ACM order provides a glimpse into the upcoming larger EU requirements.

The DMA is likely to apply to the Apple App Store, so the Dutch case has generated a lot of interest in the EU, not least because the series is indicative of a larger enforcement challenge that the Commission will face as it allows pre-monitoring of gatekeepers. platform, probably from this fall. (EU institutions reached a political agreement last week on the details of DMA, but formal approval is still pending.)

Under market reform, the penalties that the commission can impose are quite high – even up to 20% of global annual turnover in case of repeated violations – so the regime is too big for the platform giants to ignore seems difficult.

Another important change is that the DMA will be proactive and build the expectation of compliance from the start, rather than the EU competition regulator spending months or years proving non-compliance before ordering a change.

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