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Apple May Be Forced To Allow Sideloading And Third-Party Payment Systems In EU

Digital Markets Act will tackle “gatekeepers”

The EU has proposed a pending piece of legislation that if approved will force Apple to allow users to download apps and games outside of the App Store, as well as the use of third-party payment systems.

Last week, the European Parliament announced that it had agreed new rules with the European Council to “limit the market power” of large online platforms. Once approved, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) will require “core platform services”, such as social networks or search engines, to follow new interoperability standards.

As reported by The Verge, the new legislation will apply to mobile phones, meaning that iPhone users will be able to download apps and games outside of the App Store and that developers will be able to use third-party payment systems.

“We believe that the owner of a smartphone should have the freedom to choose how to use it,” said European Commission spokesperson Johannes Bahrke.

“This freedom includes being able to opt for alternative sources of apps on your smartphone. With the DMA, a smartphone owner would still be able to enjoy safe and secure services of the default app store on their smart phones. On top of that, if a user so chooses, the DMA would allow a smartphone owner to also opt for other safe app stores.”.

More choices for consumers and devs alike

In order for platforms to be affected by the law they must have a market cap of at least €75 billion or €7.5 billion in yearly sales. Furthermore, companies must provide certain services, such as browsers, messengers or social media, which have at least 45 million monthly EU users and 10,000 annual business users.

The EU has stated that it will sanction companies that are non-compliant with the new legislation, including fines of up to 10 per cent of total global annual sales, rising to 20 per cent for “repeated infringements”. Additionally, continued non-compliance may lead to restrictions on acquisitions for an unspecified time.

An Apple spokesperson commented: “Some provisions of the DMA will create unnecessary privacy and security vulnerabilities for our users while others will prohibit us from charging for intellectual property in which we invest a great deal.”

The DMA text is yet to be finalised or approved by the European Parliament and European Council, but once done, will be put into effect within six months.

Korean legislation recently mandated the use of third-party payments, although Epic’s Tim Sweeney pointedly tweeted a query as to whether the move represents “another fake opening of payment systems”.

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