May 25, 2022

Apple has been fined again in the Netherlands for an antitrust injunction against dating apps. The order requires local dating apps to be able to use third-party payment technologies if their developers get stuck, instead of using Apple’s payment API in iOS apps.

Since January, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has issued multiple (weekly) fines to Apple for what it considers to be continued non-compliance with the order.

The latest fine of 5 million euros (ninth) increases the total fine against Apple so far to 45 million euros (compared to a maximum of 50 million euros if the company does not comply with the regulator next week).

Apple has responded to a series of fines during this period by saying it is complying with the injunction, despite the regulator apparently taking a different (opposite) approach.

ACM described Apple’s response as disappointing and unfair, as it creates an unnecessary hurdle for developers seeking to enable Apple’s legal rights to use non-Apple payment technologies to make in-app payments. Do this

The fight has been going on for weeks now, but now, despite yet another verdict, there could be signs that Apple could turn things around: Apple introduced “new offerings” earlier today, according to the ACM, which says it depends on learning whether there are whether they have a collection. Or no.

“We are now going to evaluate the content of these proposals,” an ACM spokesperson said in a statement. “In this context, we are also meeting with various market participants. Our goal is to complete this review as quickly as possible.”

ACM did not disclose any of the details proposed by Apple in this revised compliance proposal. (And the regulator did not respond to requests for more details.)

“It should be noted that as of this past weekend, Apple was still not in compliance with the ACM,” the spokesperson said. “Therefore, he must pay the ninth fine, bringing Apple’s total debt to 45 million euros at present.”

Apple was also contacted for comment on the development, but the company has not responded at the time of writing. Update: Apple declined to comment.

While the ACM antitrust order only applies in the Netherlands and only applies to a subset of apps (ding-apps) – so it may seem insignificant in the big tech giant’s global terms – the tug-of-war between the national regulator and the platform giants has attracted high-level attention in the EU, suggesting that policy makers are keeping a close eye on law enforcement while working out the final details of broader competition reform.

The European Union is currently finalizing a long-term reform of its Pre-Digital Competition Policy (Digital Markets Act; also known as DMA), which will only apply to the most powerful internet arbitrage platforms.

This is important because Apple will almost certainly be appointed as a “gatekeeper” under the DMA, providing a proactive antitrust compliance regime designed to make digital markets more open and competitive, such as the use of cross-applications. use. Blocking while they are needed to support interoperability and enable service switching. This means that in the future, Apple will face similar (and much broader) antitrust bans across the EU, defining how it should (and should not) act towards third parties.

EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who heads both the bloc’s antitrust arm and digital policy development, specifically addressed the Dutch case in a speech last month, urging Apple to “substantially” comply with competition law. disagree. with. He also warned that liability for third party access to the Apple App Store “should be one of the obligations included in the DMA.”

The upcoming pan-EU law will have some serious teeth: with fines of up to 10% of annual global turnover. As well as The ability of blocks to respond to systematic rule violations by implementing a structural measure that orders the gatekeeper to fail.

Thus, for tech giants that will be subject to DMA, the “compliance vs. failure” calculation—which is only possible if the penalty can be written off as “business costs”—leads to a radical rebalancing under reboot conditions. competition in the EU. … The administration seems to be ready. And where $5 million—or even $50 million—doesn’t move a surgical needle, and a fine could run into the billions, regulators, excited at the risk of continuing the dance around regulations, have been sidelined. a frying pan with fish – which can make you reach the switches.

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