Brussels accuses Apple of breaching EU’s Digital Markets legislation

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A new blow to Apple from Europe. The European Commission (EC), the executive arm of the European Union (EU), announced on Monday that the tech giant is in breach of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) with its App Store, as it prevents app developers from “freely directing consumers to alternative channels of offers and content”. In addition, the EC has opened a new investigation against the company.

“Under the DMA, developers who distribute their apps through Apple’s App Store must be able to inform their customers free of charge of other, cheaper shopping possibilities, direct them to those offers and allow them to make purchases,” the EU executive explained in a statement.

According to the Commission, Apple currently has three sets of commercial terms and conditions governing its relationship with app developers, including App Store targeting rules. However, Brussels takes the preliminary view that Apple’s App Store rules infringe several basic aspects of the DMA.

First, the EC stresses that none of the App Store’s terms of business allow developers to “freely target” their customers. “For example, developers may not provide pricing information within the app or otherwise communicate with their customers to promote offers available in alternative distribution channels,” the EU’s executive arm notes.

On the other hand, Brussels points out that Apple only allows “link targeting”, i.e. including a link in its app that redirects the user to a webpage where he or she can enter into a contract. “The linking process is subject to a number of restrictions imposed by Apple that prevent app developers from communicating, promoting offers and concluding contracts through the distribution channel of their choice,” the Commission explains.

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The Corner
The Corner has a team of on-the-ground reporters in capital cities ranging from New York to Beijing. Their stories are edited by the teams at the Spanish magazine Consejeros (for members of companies’ boards of directors) and at the stock market news site Consenso Del Mercado (market consensus). They have worked in economics and communication for over 25 years.