EU Competition Chief Tells Apple Not to Use Privacy as a Shield Against Competition
In ongoing antitrust discussions about App Store competition, Apple has maintained that allowing users to install apps outside of the App Store would have dire privacy consequences, but European Union digital competition chief Margrethe Vestager said today that Apple must not use privacy excuses to limit competition.
In an interview with Reuters, Vestager said that privacy and security are of "paramount importance," but she does not believe that customers would be sacrificing security when sideloading an app.
The important thing here is, of course, that it's not a shield against competition, because I think customers will not give up neither security nor privacy if they use another app store or if they sideload.
Vestager has been working on the Digital Markets Act in Europe, which would require Apple to let iPhone and iPad users download apps from third-party App Stores or from the internet. Apple CEO Tim Cook said in June that the proposed rules around sideloading apps would destroy the security of the iPhone and the privacy initiatives that have been built into the App Store.
On the topic of the DMA, Vestager said that she is open to changes, and that she believes it is possible to "find solutions," but it is likely that Apple will continue to fight heavily against alternate app stores or sideloading apps.
Vestager also said that she supports Apple's recent App Tracking Transparency privacy changes and has no issue with the functionality because it's an option available to everyone.
As I have said, I think actually several times, that it is a good thing when providers give us the service that we can easily set our preferences if we want to be tracked outside the use of an app or not as long as it's the same condition for everyone. So far, we have no reason to believe that this is not the case for Apple.
Should the Digital Markets Act go on to become law, Apple will have to make major changes to its iPhone and iPad platform to accommodate the requirement to allow for non-App Store apps. Apple is also facing similar legislation in the United States, with U.S. House lawmakers in June introducing antitrust bills that would result in major changes to the tech industry if passed.
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