European Commission is only just getting started with tech giants

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European Commission is only just getting started with tech giants
Margrethe Vestager is tough on tech.
Photo: European Parliament/Wikipedia CC

Margrethe Vestager, head of the European Commission’s Competition department, has handed out giant fines to tech companies — such as Apple’s massive $14.5 billion bill in 2016.

But a new report suggests that Vestager isn’t done with tech companies by a long shot. In fact, the next several years could make the previous five look uneventful for Silicon Valley companies.

EU eyes Apple Pay and its competitive edge

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Apple Pay on iPhone and Apple Watch
Apple Pay is the only NFC payment system allowed on iPhone. Is that anticompetitive, or Apple just being safe?
Screenshot: Apple

In August, EU antitrust investigators sent a questionnaire to banks and developers of rival payment systems about Apple Pay. They’ve gotten an earful, according to Margrethe Vestager, the EU Competition Commissioner.

Antitrust investigators want to know if retailers were compelled to use Apple Pay

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Antitrust investigators want to know if retailers were compelled to use Apple Pay
Could Apple Pay be breaking the law?
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

European antitrust regulators are asking online retailers if they are contractually obligated to use Apple Pay over rival services.

The European Commission suggests it has information that Apple could have restricted online payments for goods and services using rival payment solutions. This would be in breach of EU antitrust rules.

EU antitrust regulators start Apple Pay inquiry

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Norwegian Apple Pay
Apple Pay is available in many European countries, including Norway.
Photo: Apple

Apple Pay, the iPhone’s built-in payment system, is reportedly in the sights of EU investigators. They are looking into whether Apple is giving its system an unfair advantage over competitors.

Starbucks’ tax hearing in Europe gives hope for Apple’s own tax battle

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Apple Pay finally overtakes Starbucks in mobile payments
Starbucks case could offer a clue concerning Apple's own $14.4 billion tax battle.
Photo: Nicky Colman/Flickr

Apple has received a glimpse of hope in its giant $14.4 billion tax battle against the EU. On Tuesday, the European Commission’s similar tax case against Starbucks collapsed. The EC claimed that Starbucks had received an unfair sweetheart tax deal in the Netherlands. The European Commission’s General Court overturned this earlier 2015 decision.

But another case against Fiat Chrysler concluded with the European court saying that it had enjoyed preferential tax treatment in Luxembourg.

Spotify’s whining could spark antitrust probe of Apple

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Spotify is adding 2x as many monthly subscribers as Apple Music
The war between Spotify and Apple Music is heating up.
Photo: Spotify

Is Apple using its control of the App Store to squeeze out rivals? That’s the question European competition regulators are looking into.

This news comes after Spotify complained that it is nti-competitive that this company is  required to give Apple a big share of subscription fees paid through the App Store.

European regulators are keeping a close eye on Apple Pay

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Apple Pay Germany
Apple Pay recently went live in Germany.
Photo: Apple

Tim Cook has admitted that Apple Pay hasn’t taken off quite as quickly as he would like. But that’s not stopping the European Commission from threatening that Apple’s mobile payments service could face challenges if it gets much more dominant.

Speaking this week, European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that, while at “first glance, we couldn’t see Apple being dominant,” it will face ongoing scrutiny regarding Apple Pay.

Ireland won’t be sued over Apple’s giant tax bill

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Apple's headquarters in Cork, Ireland.
Apple's headquarters in Cork, Ireland.
Photo: Jan Zuppinger/Flickr CC

The European Commission has decided that it won’t sue Ireland over delays in recovering a 13.1 billion euro ($15 billion) disputed tax bill from Apple.

The European Court of Justice action against Ireland was initiated in October 2017 after the country failed to get Apple to pay up one year after the European Union handed Apple the massive tax bill.

New Google policy could raise the price of Android phones

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Android P has a similar swipe-based navigation system as the iPhone X, and it supports screen cutouts.
It's going to cost more to offer Android devices in the EU.
Graphic: Google

Google is being forced to start charging Android device makers a fee to use the software that previously came free with this operating system. It’s possible device makers will pass this cost along to phone buyers.

This only applies in Europe, though, as it’s a result of the EU ruling that Google used anti-competitive business practices. The company was also fined about $5 billion.