EU plans to regulate Apple have been delayed until the spring of 2023 amid preparations to impose new rules

Widespread new regulations in the European Union targeting Apple and other big tech companies will take effect in early 2023, according to EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager (via Take Crunch).

The European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) could force Apple to make major changes to the App Store, Messages, FaceTime, third-party browsers and Siri in Europe. For example, it may be forced to allow users to install third-party app stores and sideload apps, give developers the ability to closely interact with Apple’s own services and promote their offerings outside the App Store‌, use third-party payment systems, and access data collected by Apple.

One of the latest additions to DMA is the requirement to make messaging, voice, and video calling services interoperable. Interoperability rules, in theory, mean that Meta apps like WhatsApp or Messenger can ask to work with Apple’s iMessage framework, and Apple will have to comply.

Speaking at the International Competition Network conference in Berlin, Vestager said the DMA “will come into effect next spring and we are preparing for implementation as soon as the first notifications appear.” The DMA was originally supposed to go into effect in October 2022, indicating a slight delay in preparing for the new legislation. Vestager also mentioned that the first enforcements could follow soon after the regulation was put in place, and discussed ongoing preparations for the EU:

The next chapter is exciting. It means a lot of concrete preparations. It is about creating new structures within the Commission, pooling resources… on the basis of relevant experience. It’s about hiring employees. It is about setting up IT systems. It is about drafting more legal texts about procedures or notification forms. Our teams are currently busy with all of these preparations and we aim to move forward with the new structures very soon.

EU lawmakers provisionally approved the DMA in March. The European Parliament and the European Council must give final approval to the legislation before it can enter into force. Big tech companies that meet the criteria for their designation as a “gatekeeper” must announce their status to the European Commission within three months after the regulation goes into effect, and there is an additional two-month period for the European Union to confirm the appointment of a gatekeeper, meaning there may still be some time before the Companies face enforcement action.

Apple would almost certainly be labeled a “gatekeeper”, given its annual EU sales volume, ownership and operation of platforms with a large number of active users, and its “well-established and enduring position” because of how long it meets these criteria, and thus will be subject to the rules Set forth in Dynamic Mechanical Analysis (DMA).

Outside the European Union, Apple’s ecosystem is under increasingly intense scrutiny by governments around the world, including in the US, UK, Japan, South Korea and others, with a clear appetite from global regulators to explore requirements around application sideloading and interoperability. . Vestager suggested that a significant level of cooperation was already taking place as part of preparations for dynamic mechanical analysis, and urged national competition authorities around the world to cooperate closely:

For this next chapter, close cooperation with competition authorities, both within and outside the EU, will be crucial. This is regardless of whether they implement traditional enforcement tools or develop their own regulatory tools, such as German digital regulation. Close cooperation will be essential because we will not be short of business nor will we be short of new services or practices for consideration. The efforts required on a global scale are enormous. So we will need to work together more than ever.

Many of you will be watching with great interest the rollout of DMA. This will be a mutual learning experience. The European Union has worked hard to find the right balance, and I think we have come up with something difficult but very fair. It goes without saying that the more we, as an international competition community, can coordinate our approach, the less opportunity there will be for global tech giants to exploit enforcement gaps between our jurisdictions.

The DMA says gatekeepers who ignore the rules will face fines of up to 10 percent of the company’s annual worldwide turnover, or 20 percent in the case of repeated violations, as well as periodic penalties of up to 5 percent of the company’s worldwide total. annual yield. Where Gatekeepers commit “systematic violations”, the European Commission will be able to impose additional sanctions, such as requiring Gatekeeper to sell a business or parts thereof, including units, assets, intellectual property rights or trademarks, or preventing Gatekeeper from acquiring any A company that provides services in the digital sector.

So far, Apple has fiercely resisted attempts by governments to force changes to its operating systems and services. For example, Apple simply chose to pay a $5.5 million fine every week for ten weeks in the Netherlands rather than obey orders from the Consumer and Markets Authority (ACM) to allow third-party payment systems into Dutch dating apps. Earlier this week, the ACM announced that Apple’s rules regarding Dutch dating apps are still not enough.

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