Margrethe Vestager, Vice President of the European Commission, warned Apple against using the protection of privacy and the security of users as an excuse to eliminate competition, monopoly and breaking laws. This warning comes after an exchange of statements and statements between Apple and the European Commission. So what is the story and what does Europe want from Apple?

Europe warns Apple against using privacy as an excuse to monopolize

Before the start of the conflict

The conflict between Apple and the European Union began with a series of cases launched by major companies against Apple, such as Spotify, Epic, and others; These issues coincided with the discovery of the European Union that technology companies, especially Apple, circumvent European laws and pay little taxes, which prompted Europe to move against technology companies, so Apple was fined tax settlements in several countries; The French president also proposed imposing taxes on major technology companies (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook), but former US President Trump's threats to France made it back down from implementing this law.

At the same time, European privacy investigations were launched and GDPR And it began to take effect from mid-2018, then Google was fined several times over privacy, data collection and monopoly, as Google was considered a monopoly because it forces companies that want to use Android to download their applications such as YouTube, Chrome, Google Maps, and others. The fines levied on Google total $9 billion as of September 2020. Now it's Apple's turn.

The struggle with Apple

In the Apple Qualcomm case, the European Union discovered that Qualcomm had weakened its competitor “Intel” by making contracts with various companies to deprive Intel of any customers. Indeed, in January 2018, a decision was issued to fine Qualcomm $1.2 billion. And here the European Union began to focus with companies that are indirectly killing competitors. And now Apple is the main culprit.

The European Commission considers Apple a monopoly on the iPhone and iPad and no one has the right to download any application on these devices without Apple's approval; Some reports described this behavior as Apple enslaving iOS/iPadOS users and exercising an authoritarian role over them, deciding what to download and what does not suit them, and no one has the right to violate it. The European Union considers this a monopolistic practice. It is the right of the user who bought the device to download any application he wants and not any Apple application that you want; Ownership of the device passed to him and it is no longer owned by Apple to decide what to load it on. Hence the DMA law came into being in 2020.

DMA قانون Law

When you find a violating company, you can issue a fine to it directly, as happened with Google and Qualcomm. But when you see improper behavior that occurs from a company, you cannot say that this is a law to prevent such and such company from this behavior. The laws must be general and not issued to a specific company. So Margrethe Vestager, Vice President of the European Commission, proposed the Electronic Markets Act, or what is known as DMA, at the end of 2020, and with it several other laws such as the DSA and others.

This law states several things, the most important of which is that no company has the right to force any user to use any application; For example, when you buy a Samsung phone, you find the Samsung browser installed by default; This is a monopolistic violation, so why put your browser? The same is true of Apple, as it has no right to pre-install its programs on devices. Even more important is that Apple, Google and any company have no monopoly on the right to download applications. The user is not custodian and has the right, as long as he has purchased the device, to download any application from anywhere.

How is pre-loading apps a monopoly?

One of the problems faced by any company in any field is to get the opportunity to experiment; For example, you have a new restaurant that serves good food and near you there is a famous restaurant; The quality of your restaurant is superior to the famous one. You just want a customer to try your restaurant. But in the end you will be closed because the majority will automatically go to the famous restaurant.

This happens on phones; Imagine that you are a startup that wants to develop a unique browser; When you have Safari or Chrome on your phone by default, you won't even think about trying another browser. Ask yourself how many times have you used the Samsung or Xiaomi browser or maybe even Opera. So the law wants you to have a device without apps; Of course, you will involuntarily go to the store and download your usual programs; But while searching for it, your eyes will fall on other applications, and you may think about trying it… But if your favorite browser is preloaded, then you will not go to the store to search for browsers, which will lead to you not seeing the other browser and will not get the opportunity to try.

How did Apple respond to Europe?

Apple issued a statement two weeks ago attacking the law and considering enabling users to download any application they want from anywhere; Apple said that its goal is to provide a secure store to protect data and privacy in which the user can download any application safely and without worrying about anything. If the company is forced to provide other stores, this puts the user at risk and his data may be stolen. Apple said parallel downloading is dangerous for everyone, even if you don't want to download apps from outside the App Store; Where Apple said that enabling parallel downloading will increase the activity of attempting to hack the system (Apple did not explain how) and may deceive the user. Apple gave an example and said that the user might want an application for work or school, but it is not present in the Apple Store because it does not meet the standards; Here he will download this app from another store and put himself at risk. Also, stores may deceive the user with a design similar to a software store to trick him into downloading applications.

In response to the point that the Mac offers downloading applications from outside the Store without problems; Apple said that the iPhone is not a Mac and the iPhone has more users and more important data, so the interest in hacking the iPhone is greater than the Mac.

It is reported that European newspapers have commented on the Mac point by saying that Apple evaded the comment. If it sees parallel downloading destroying privacy, this is Apple's admission that the Mac is hacked and insecure; And if the Mac is safe with parallel downloading, why doesn't the same happen on the iPhone?

The European Commission's response to Apple

The Commission commented on Apple that it is exploiting privacy to deceive its users by deluding them that they will always be deceived (imposing guardianship), and Apple aims in this matter to get the right to prevent any competitor from accessing its store on the pretext that it violates privacy. In statements to Reuters, Margaret said that privacy and security are important to everyone, but Apple always promotes that the user does not know this and that customers will give up privacy and security when using another app store or sideloading. The Commission called on Apple to stop using privacy concerns to justify a monopoly. In the end, it is not only Apple that knows what privacy and security is. If you download an application outside of Apple, you are at risk.

It is worth noting that the DMA law, if approved, will not be activated before 2023.

What do you think of Apple's conflict with the European Commission? Do you agree with Europe about leaving the freedom of choice for users, or with Apple that it should protect its users from hackers? Share your opinion with us in the comments.


iclarified |Bloomberg | Reuters | Apple | Reuters | The Verge

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