EU targets Apple and other big tech companies with stricter regulations

Apple is reported to be on an EU’s  ‘hit list’ of tech companies that are set to be subjected to much tighter regulations due to their market power. The list is said to include up to 20 tech giants, such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google of the Silicon Valley.

The Cupertino tech giant has been subject to a number of anti-trust allegations and investigations this year. Most recently, Italy’s antitrust regulator opened another inquiry into the company for alleged improper commercial practices with regards to cloud computing services.

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Apple on EU’s ‘hit list’ of tech giants to impose stricter regulations

As reported by The Financial Times, the alleged hit list is likely to include several Silicon Valley giants including Apple which will be subjected to new, stricter rules aimed at keeping their market power in check. These new rules are aimed at putting a stop to anti-competitive behavior enforced on smaller tech companies:

“[The list is] likely to include Silicon Valley giants such as Facebook and Apple, that will be subject to new and far more stringent rules aimed at curbing their market power

Under the plans, large platforms that find themselves on the list will have to comply with tougher regulation than smaller competitors, according to people familiar with the discussions, including new rules that will force them to share data with rivals and an obligation to be more transparent on how they gather information.

The list will be compiled based on a number of criteria, including market share of revenues and number of users, meaning the likes of Facebook and Google are likely to be included. Those deemed to be so powerful that rivals cannot trade without using their platforms could also be added.”

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One particular focus of the EU is said to be on ‘gatekeeper’ companies, which have the power to decide to keep competitors off their platforms or to impose conditions with make it harder for them to compete.

For example, Spotify claims that Apple does this because Apple Music users can subscribe from within the app at the end of a free trial. Spotify users, in comparison, cannot do so without Apple taking a cut. If the App Store were a separate business, Apple Music would either have to pay the same 30% commission or the tech giant would need to remove the commission for all streaming music apps.

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The EU also wants to make sure that companies like Apple do not have an unfair advantage in the market by having access to data on the popularity of apps which is not available to the rest of the tech community.

“As part of the powers, the EU is seeking to go beyond just fines, which often are seen as just the cost of doing business. Instead, Brussels wants to be able to move quickly to force the likes of […] Apple to ensure they give access to competitors and that they share data with rivals.”

While Europe is taking a tougher stance on anti-competitive behavior than the US, a recent congressional antitrust report also concluded that the App Store gives Apple ‘monopoly power’ over iOS apps, and contains suggestions to seize the power of tech giants.

About the Author

Mobile gaming editor for iThinkDifferent