New UK antitrust rules could fine tech giants big bucks for breaking rules

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New antitrust measures are brewing in the United Kingdom.
New U.K. antitrust rules are brewing.
Photo: Colin Watts/Unsplash CC

The United Kingdom is developing new antitrust measures and could fine tech giants up to 10% of their annual revenue for breaking the rules. The Digital Markets Unit’s plan is intended to make it easier for U.K. businesses — such as startups, news publishers and advertisers — to compete with established giants like Apple and Amazon.

“Tech has transformed our lives for the better, whether it’s helping us to stay in touch with our loved ones, share content, or access the latest news,” said Kwasi Kwarteng, the U.K.’s secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, in a press release Tuesday. “Nobody wants to see an unassailable monopoly, and our common sense reforms will help protect consumers, support ground-breaking new ideas and level the playing field for businesses.”

Today in Apple history: Apple pays $450 million to settle e-books suit

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iBooks
Apple was accused of trying to hurt rival e-book sellers.
Photo: Apple

July 16: Today in Apple history: Apple settles e-books lawsuit for $450 million July 16, 2014: Apple agrees to pay $450 million to resolve the Department of Justice’s antitrust case against the company over e-book pricing in the iBooks Store.

Cupertino stood accused of conspiring with five major book publishers to fix e-book prices. The five publishers all settled their claims outside of court, leaving only Apple to go to trial.

House committee approves antitrust legislation that could hit Apple hard

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App Store faces barrage of antitrust charges
Apple's antitrust woes look set to continue.
Photo: Sora Shimazaki/Pexels CC

A House committee approved antitrust legislation Thursday that threatens many big tech companies — Apple included. In a 24 to 20 vote early this morning, the committee approved the American Choice and Innovation Online Act.

The bill, which still needs to pass the full House, seeks to stop big platforms from advantaging their own products or services over those made by others. That could affect Apple, which not only owns and operates the App Store distribution platform, but also makes products that compete with some of the apps distributed through said store.

Apple thinks antitrust reform could create ‘race to the bottom’ for security

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Privacy
Apple says proposed antitrust regulation would endanger consumer privacy.
Photo: Apple

Apple thinks five pieces of antitrust reform legislation could undermine innovation and competition in tech, as well as creating a “race to the bottom” for security and privacy. Apple laid out its concerns in a letter sent ahead of Wednesday’s meeting of the House Judiciary Committee to discuss the proposed laws.

The letter — sent to chairmen Jerrold Nadler and David Cicilline, and ranking members Jim Jordan and Ken Buck — lays out Apple’s arguments for why the government needs to reconsider the five bills.

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Read Epic Games' reasonable idea for opening up the App Store
Stick to the App Store, Apple says.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Tim Cook called Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats worried about antitrust legislation

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Tim Cook congressional antitrust hearing: Should Tim Cook be worried about Congress breaking up Apple?
"Or how about we don't?"
Photo: C-SPAN

Tim Cook reportedly got in touch with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in addition to other members of Congress, to voice his worries about possible antitrust legislation, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

The Democrats are currently circulating drafts of antitrust bills that could affect the likes of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google. If passed, these bills could impact Apple’s ability to own and operate its own App Store marketplace in the way it currently does.

Shocker: Apple-backed nonprofits don’t like antitrust bills targeting Big Tech

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Tim Cook will testify before a congressional antitrust subcommittee this week.
Who, us?
Photo: Mark Mathosian/Flickr CC

To the surprise of roughly no-one, Apple doesn’t like the spate of anti-Big Tech antitrust bills being proposed in the United States.

In a letter sent Monday, a number of nonprofits — including ones connected to Apple, such as TechNet, the Consumer Technology Alliance, and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation — urged the House Judiciary Committee to reject the bills.

Germany opens antitrust investigation into Apple’s marketplace dominance

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App Store faces barrage of antitrust charges
Germany is looking into whether Apple has too much power.
Photo: Sora Shimazaki/Pexels CC

Germany’s antitrust watchdog said Monday it is launching an antitrust investigation to see whether Apple has a “paramount significance across markets.”

According to Reuters, the probe by Germany’s Federal Cartel Office was partly prompted by advertising and media industry complaints over Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature.

“Based on this first proceeding, the (FCO) intends to assess in more detail specific practices of Apple in a possible further proceeding,” notes the investigatory paperwork. “In this regard, the authority has received various complaints relating to potentially anti-competitive practices.”

Apple says it looks forward to “discussing our approach with the FCO and having an open dialogue about any of their concerns.”

The European Union vs. Apple

One of the leading countries in the European Union, Germany previously announced investigations into Facebook, Amazon and Google over different complaints. And given how much scrutiny the EU has placed Apple under, it’s no surprise to hear Germany begin its own investigation.

The European Union is already probing Apple’s control of the App Store. Another EU investigation is looking into Apple Pay. Another is eyeing Apple’s potential to be a “gatekeeper” in the smart home industry.

Source: Reuters

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choice apples
It's all about the paradox of choice.
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Japan mulls antitrust investigation into Apple and Google

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App Store faces barrage of antitrust charges
Japan is weighing up a possible antitrust investigation regarding mobile OS dominance.
Photo: Sora Shimazaki/Pexels CC

Japan is the latest country to turn its antitrust attention on Apple. The Japan Times reports that the Japanese government is set to investigate both Apple and Google over their dominance in mobile operating systems.

The report, which cites a Nikkei article, is short on details. It notes that nine out of 10 phones sold in Japan run either Android or iOS. But it does not explain where the problematic aspect of this is. Typically, antitrust involves situations in which a market leader, or collusion between market leaders, results in a monopoly of a particular market. Breaking up these monopolies is intended to give customers more choice.