The European Union (EU) is set to hit Apple with an antitrust charge later this week after a two-year probe into the iPhone maker’s alleged anti-competitive behavior, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday (April 27), citing sources.
The charges stem from a Spotify complaint in March 2019 that the Apple App Store’s 30 percent commission, as well as its rule preventing app distribution elsewhere, are in violation of competition law. Brussels launched an official investigation after EU Competition Head Margrethe Vestager pointed to Apple as being the “gatekeeper” regarding the distribution of apps and content to iOS users.
If found guilty, Apple faces a potential maximum fine equal to 10 percent of its global revenue. The Apple allegations in the EU comprise one of the most high-profile cases in Europe against a U.S. technology company, according to FT.
Antitrust allegations against Apple are also being investigated by Brussels over competition regarding both ebooks and mobile payments. Brussels is also advocating for the upcoming Digital Markets Act, which is expected to devise a definition for Big Tech antitrust behavior.
The U.K. also launched an antitrust investigation into Apple’s App Store policies. App Store competition is also being investigated by a U.S. Senate committee.
Apple has denied all allegations.
Antitrust regulators in the U.K., Australia and Germany warned earlier this month that the pandemic is not an excuse to allow anti-competitive behavior. Further, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is calling for a change to local mandates to block mergers that could negatively affect consumers.
Apple’s privacy changes in the latest update to its operating system, iOS 14.5, have prompted a complaint from Bundeskartellamt, a German industry association for media, technology and advertising firms that counts Facebook among its members. Apple’s update to iPhone’s operating system gives app users the ability to decline advertising tracking.
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