Apple Under Italian Antitrust Watchdog’s Scanner Over Alleged Abuse of App Market Dominance

Mobile

Italy’s antitrust agency AGCM said on Thursday it had opened a probe into US technology giant Apple Inc for alleged abuse of its dominant position in the apps market.

The watchdog said Apple penalised third-party app developers by imposing “a more restrictive privacy policy” than it applies to itself, from April 2021.

Furthermore, external app developers are disadvantaged “in terms of the quality of the data made available by Apple,” the AGCM said in its statement.

In an emailed statement to Reuters, Apple said it applies privacy rules “equally to all developers, including Apple”.

“We will continue to engage constructively with the AGCM to address any of their questions,” the company added.

Under European Union competition law, companies found guilty of abuse of market dominance risk a fine of up to 10 percent of annual turnover.

Apple and other US tech giants have come under repeated scrutiny from European regulators.

On Wednesday, the European Commission said it was seeking more information on Apple’s mobile payment system as part of an ongoing antitrust case against the iPhone maker.

ITALIAN CASE

According to the Italian watchdog, users of non-Apple apps have more visible and more strongly worded prompts to block data tracking.

Third-party app developers are also offered less comprehensive information about the success of their ad campaigns, the AGCM said.

“Apple’s alleged discriminatory conduct may cause a fall in advertising revenues for third-party advertisers, to the benefit of Apple’s commercial division,” the authority said.

This may drive competitors away from the app development and distribution market, benefitting Apple’s internal apps, mobile devices, and iOS operating system, it added.

In 2021, e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc was handed a fine by the AGCM for alleged abuse of a dominant position in the Italian market to favour the adoption of its own logistics service. 

© Thomson Reuters 2023


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