Apple’s hysteria over the new EU antimonopoly law / Habr

Apple’s hysteria over the new EU antimonopoly law / Habr

Apple’s hysteria over the new EU antitrust law has already led to two retreats, and the law came into force just a week ago.

European Commission 2 – Apple 0.

The EU’s Digital Markets Act has been in force for less than five days, and its enforcers have already pushed Apple to do two humiliating things. If Apple was trying to see how much it could pull above its weight in its more hilarious tantrum over the new big tech antitrust law, now they’ve got an answer.

The first change came earlier this month, when Apple meekly agreed to let web apps on the home screen continue to work on the iPhone as intended. Apple previously rejected this entire category based on user security protections for a rather strange reading of DMA. The commission threatened to investigate and Apple backed down.

Then, on Friday, Apple agreed to reinstate a developer account for arch-nemesis Epic Games, effectively allowing it to roll out a third-party app store for iOS (an actual DMA requirement) as well as bring Fortnite back to iOS devices in the EU.

The reason for the account closure by Apple was that Epic Games had previously violated Apple’s policy by launching an alternative to Apple’s payment system for in-app payments (which is why Apple banned Fortnite from the App Store in 2020).
Apple also argued that Epic Games’ criticism of Apple’s new business model in the EU meant it could not be trusted to abide by the terms of third-party app stores, even though Epic Games had promised to abide by them.

Apple’s argument was doubly ridiculous because:

  • the commission wants affected companies to provide feedback on the big tech companies’ attempts to comply with the DMA.
  • Apple said the California court’s decision gave it the ability to cancel Epic Games developer accounts at any time, anywhere in the world.

After the commission again threatened to investigate (and presumably after Apple’s lawyers typed the word “jurisdiction” into Google), the company backed down again. “I’m pleased to note that following our contacts, Apple has decided to reverse its decision to exclude Epic Games,” laughed Thierry Breton, chairman of the digital technology commission. “From day two, DMA is already showing very specific results!”

I think it’s fair to say at this point that Tim Cook’s team went way overboard in their response to DMA. But no one ever said that complying with EU technology legislation is easy.

You know who else learned this lesson? The European Commission.

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) — the privacy regulator that specifically monitors the EU’s major institutions — criticized the commission for violating the 2018 data protection law in the way its employees use Microsoft 365.

The watchdog said the commission failed to implement safeguards that ensure people’s personal data only travel to countries whose protection rules are equivalent to EU rules. Moreover, the Commission did not adequately specify what types of personal data will be collected when using Microsoft 365 and what the data will be used for, as required by law. (This is not the commonly known data protection regulation or GDPR, but rather a special companion law that only applies to EU institutions).

As a result, the commission will have to “stop all data flows arising from the use of Microsoft 365 at Microsoft, its affiliates and sub-processors located in countries outside the EU and the European Economic Area”, which lack adequate privacy protection.
The EDPS has given the commission until early December to comply, reflecting how difficult it will be to implement the decision without disrupting the commission’s work.

The Commission insists that the use of Microsoft 365 complies with the law. They study the EDPS order before deciding how to respond. But, according to the statement,
“Adherence to the EDPS decision will likely undermine the current high level of mobile and integrated IT services. This applies not only to Microsoft, but also to other commercial IT services.”

Fair or not, I suspect many Silicon Valley regulators will find this situation ironic.

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