Why Apple’s battle in the Netherlands matters

This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. This is a collection of past column.

Who wins when governments go head-to-head with tech giants — and who should we get?

We’re getting a little quiz on that question in the Netherlands. Last year, the Dutch equivalent of the US Federal Trade Commission became one of the first in the world. request Apple gives people a variety of payment options to use dating apps on their phones. It’s a small crack in the absolute control that Apple has asserted over iPhone apps since 2008.

This has now turned into a confrontation between the world’s most valuable company and Dutch officials. Apple proposed an alternative, but the regulator called Apple’s attitude “regrettable” and issued a weekly fine totaling 25 million euros (about $28 million). Apple says that the security and convenience of iPhone owners will be compromised if it allows this, but also says the company is complying with its legal obligations.

I wouldn’t normally notice a relatively small regulatory beef, but the company is fighting it like it’s a big deal. Apple’s response also reveals how tech superpowers are responding to government efforts to change the role of technology.

Many authorities everywhere in the world – in both democratic and authoritarian countries – want to get tech companies to change what they do. Tech giants tend to say they comply with the law wherever they operate. But they are also against governments and deflect or shape laws and regulations. And it’s not always easy to tell the difference between legitimate defiance and corporate punishment.

For example, democracy advocates have criticized Facebook, Twitter, Apple and Google for not doing more to counter government efforts to censor political speech in countries such as Vietnam, India and Russia. After the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, in 2015 and in Pensacola, Fla., In 2020, internet evangelists praised Apple for refusing to help the FBI break into killers’ iPhones.

The Netherlands becomes a difficult technology battleground with high stakes start in 2019when the Consumer and Markets Administration began investigating whether Apple’s app store violated the country’s anti-abuse laws.

The problem is as broad as the one Apple is facing everywhere from Fargo, NDarrive Seoul and more world capital and courtroom in Between. Some authorities and developers say that Apple unfairly controls our smartphones and our digital economy by requiring downloads of iPhone apps through its app store. surname. There, the company sets rules about what content is appropriate and collects commissions of up to 30 percent on some purchases.

App developers including Match Group, the US company that owns Tinder, Match.com and other dating services, used the Dutch investigation to express their displeasure about Apple. Match wants more options to go around Apple’s store to direct people to pay for dating services.

In August, ACM banned Apple from requiring dating apps to use only the company’s payment system, which allows Apple to charge a fee. It may not look like much, but the Netherlands could be one of the first dominoes in loosening Apple’s grip on the app economy.

ReplyApple last month proposed a series of conditions that some app developers said Is one hostile defiance Dutch regulatory authorities. Essentially, Apple says that domestic dating apps can use whatever payment system they want, but Apple will charge 27 cents for every dollar of purchases people make in the app, and Ask dating companies for information and check. it.

Imagine if Walmart said shoppers could pay any way they wanted, but it could cost more if you used a non-Walmart credit card and you had to provide Walmart with a copy of your credit card. card’s monthly statement.

Those who regularly follow Apple have speak that their approach in the Netherlands is perhaps a blueprint for other cases where judges or regulators try to force the company to do things it doesn’t want to with its app store .

The regulator says that Apple’s new conditions do not comply with the ACM order. “Apple’s so-called ‘solutions’ continue to create too many barriers for dating app providers wanting to use their own payment systems,” an ACM spokesperson said in a statement. on Monday.

A court in the Netherlands will most likely have to settle the dispute with Apple. Regulations are all slow and complicated, but this dispute shows that those involving deep-pocketed tech companies can be much more than that. The question now is whether Apple will resist current and future attempts to transform its app store with the power it has in the Netherlands – and whether we’d be better off or worse off. that happens.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/22/technology/apple-netherlands-app-store.html Why Apple’s battle in the Netherlands matters

Fry Electronics Team

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