Apple to face first charges under new European tech law

European competition authorities allege that Apple’s App Store rules don’t allow developers to provide pricing information within the app. (Photo: Samsul Said/Bloomberg) (Bloomberg)
European competition authorities allege that Apple’s App Store rules don’t allow developers to provide pricing information within the app. (Photo: Samsul Said/Bloomberg) (Bloomberg)

Summary

The charges are the first to be issued under the EU’s Digital Markets Act, which sets out a long list of rules aimed at boosting competition in digital advertising, online search and app ecosystems.

The European Union has charged Apple with failing to comply with a new digital-competition law, alleging the iPhone maker’s App Store isn’t allowing developers to freely direct customers to alternative ways to make purchases.

The charges announced Monday are the first to be issued under the EU’s Digital Markets Act, which took effect earlier this year and sets out a long list of rules aimed at boosting competition in digital advertising, online search and app ecosystems.

European competition authorities allege that Apple’s App Store rules don’t allow developers to provide pricing information within the app, or to communicate freely with customers about offers that are available outside the App Store.

In many cases, Apple places restrictions on developers’ ability to provide links to customers, the bloc said. It also said fees related to the App Store go beyond what is necessary.

Apple has previously said it was confident that its policies comply with the DMA, and that it had incorporated feedback from EU officials and developers.

The charges, which the EU refers to as preliminary findings, come after the bloc opened an investigation into Apple’s App Store rules in March. At the time, regulators said they were also opening probes related to Meta and Google’s compliance with the law.

Monday’s charges cement the iPhone maker as the tech company EU regulators are targeting the most aggressively under the new law. If companies are found to have broken the DMA rules, they could be fined as much as 10% of their worldwide revenue.

The EU said the charges represent a preliminary view that Apple breached the DMA, and don’t necessarily mean that the company will ultimately be found to be breaking the rules. It said Apple would have an opportunity to examine its findings and respond to them.

The EU also said it would open a new investigation into Apple’s business model for the App Store, which includes the introduction of a so-called core technology fee that some app developers said would make it impossible to benefit from new opportunities under the DMA.

Write to Kim Mackrael at kim.mackrael@wsj.com

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