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Apple App Store payment rules anti-competitive, Dutch watchdog finds

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The Dutch antitrust authority has found that Apple’s rules requiring software developers to use Apple’s in-app payment system are anti-competitive and ordered it to make changes, four people familiar with the matter said. In the latest regulatory setback for the manufacturer.

Apple’s app-store payment policies, specifically requiring that app developers exclusively use its payment system where commissions range between 15 percent and 30 percent, have long been complaints from developers.

The Dutch investigation into whether Apple’s practices amounted to abuse of a dominant market position began in 2019 but later narrowed in scope to focus primarily on dating market apps.

They included a complaint from Match Group, owner of the popular dating service Tinder, which said Apple’s rules were preventing it from direct communication with its customers about payments.

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) informed the US tech giant of its decision last month, becoming the first antitrust regulator to find that the company had abused market power in the App Store, although Apple has been criticized for several reasons. challenges are being faced. Country.

The people said that ACM has not imposed a fine against Apple, but sought changes to the in-app payment system. The decision has not been seen by Reuters.

An ACM spokesperson declined to comment, saying the matter was still under legal review. The regulator had earlier said it expected to publish its decision this year.

Apple was not immediately available for comment. The company argues that its App Store rules ensure security and privacy for its users.

Match declined to comment. A lawyer representing the company in the Dutch case said he could not comment.

People said Apple has sought an injunction to block publication of the verdict during its appeal to the Rotterdam District Court.

A court spokesman confirmed the existence of the case to block publication, but could not say when a decision is expected. The proceedings are not open to the press or the public.

The European Commission launched an investigation in 2020 parallel to the Dutch investigation, but focused on whether App Store rules favor Apple apps when there are competing products such as Apple Music versus Spotify.

Last month a US judge ordered Apple to make it easier for apps to promote alternative payment systems. Plaintiff Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, is appealing, saying the decision doesn’t go far enough.

South Korea has enacted a law prohibiting app store operators from forcing developers to use its official payment system. Apple and Google are due to respond this month on how they will comply.

In Japan, Apple settled an antitrust investigation by agreeing to allow certain music, video and e-book apps, most notably Netflix, to promote purchase options outside of their apps.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


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