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Apple’s App Store broke competition laws: Dutch watchdog

Apple’s practise of requiring app developers to use its
in-app payment system and pay commissions of 15% to 30% on digital goods
purchases has come under scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers around the
world.

An investigation by the Netherlands’ Authority for Consumers
and Markets (ACM) on whether Apple’s practises amounted to an abuse of a
dominant market position was launched in 2019. But it was later reduced in
scope to focus primarily on dating market apps, including Tinder owner Match
Group Inc.

“We disagree with the order issued by the ACM and have
filed an appeal,” Apple said in a statement. It added that “Apple
does not have a dominant position in the market for software distribution in
the Netherlands, has invested tremendous resources helping developers of dating
apps reach customers and thrive on the App Store.”

Reuters reported in October that the ACM had found Apple’s
practises anti-competitive and ordered changes, but the decision was not
published until Friday.

The regulator’s decision said Apple violated competition
laws. It has ordered Apple to adjust the unreasonable conditions in its App
Store that apply to dating-app providers.

The decision orders Apple to allow dating-apps providers to
use alternative payment systems. The company faces a fine of up to 50m euros
($56.6m) if it fails to comply.

Apple was given until Jan 15 to implement changes, a
statement said.

“We applaud the ruling issued today by a Rotterdam
Court affirming the ACM’s decision that Apple’s forced use of its in-app
payment systems and other practises violate Dutch and EU competition law, and
must be eliminated by January 15th,” Match group said in an email statement.

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The disclosure of Apple’s regulatory setback in the
Netherlands comes after the iPhone maker lost a fight in South Korea to stop a
law that requires major app platform providers like Apple and Alphabet Inc’s
Google to allow developers to use third-party payment services.

Google has indicated it will allow such payments, though it
will still charge a commission on them. Apple has not commented on its plans
for compliance in Korea.

Apple is facing proposed legislation in the European Union
and United States that would force it to change its in-app payment policies and
other business practises objected to by developers.

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