European Commission worries Apple could be future smart home ‘gatekeeper’

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Siri on HomePod mini
Siri is taking over our lives.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Smart home technology isn’t a massive focus of Apple’s. But the European Commission is nonetheless concerned that Apple could be one of the companies potentially able to engage in anticompetitive behavior in this area due to its outsized influence on the tech industry.

In preliminary investigation results published Wednesday, the EC raises concerns about the potential of “gatekeepers emerging” in this sector. The inquiry into Internet of Things (IoT) devices was launched in July 2020. It’s based on feedback from more than 200 different companies. Along with Apple, Amazon and Google are both mentioned as big players.

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Streaming services like Apple Music dominate the US music market
Does Apple's App Store control give it an unfair leg up?
Photo: Apple

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App Store faces barrage of antitrust charges
Government agencies in the EU and UK are looking into whether the iPhone App Store violates their antitrust laws.
Photo: Sora Shimazaki/Pexels CC

European Commission will keep fighting in $14.8 billion Apple tax battle

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iPhone with gavel.
Europe isn't throwing in the towel.
Photo: Tingey Injury Law Firm/Cult of Mac

Contrary to reports suggesting otherwise, the European Commission has revealed that it will appeal a recent court decision that went in Apple’s favor concerning a massive $14.8 billion tax bill.

The EC made the tax demand to Apple in 2016, accusing it of benefitting from illegal state aid from Ireland. However, Apple appealed the decision and, in a July hearing, had its objections upheld. Now the EC is asking another court to overturn that verdict.

European Commission may not appeal Apple’s tax verdict victory after all

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iPhone with gavel.
Court case concerned Apple's $14.8 billion tax bill.
Photo: Tingey Injury Law Firm/Cult of Mac

The European Commission has yet to appeal its loss to Apple in the landmark multi-billion dollar tax bill case. And it may not do so at all.

The EC lost lost its court case about Apple’s $14.8 billion tax bill in July. At the time, it was widely assumed that the EC would appeal the case. However, with the deadline looming on Friday it has yet to do so.

European Commission trustbusters eye Siri and other voice assistants

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European Commission trustbuster Margrethe Vestager has Siri in her sights.
Do voice assistants like Siri give companies an unfair advantage?
Photo: ECR Group/Flickr CC

Does the voice data harvested by voice assistants like Siri give tech giants an unfair marketplace advantage? Lawmakers in Europe are currently pondering that exact question.

A European Commission investigation into the matter will look at whether this data is being used to stifle competition and maintain the position of companies like Apple and Amazon in the marketplace. This most notably relates to the rapidly expanding constellation of smart, connected devices.

European Commission may have lost Apple tax case, but it believes it’s morally in the right

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Image showing
The tax battle with Apple looks set to rage on.
Photo: New York Public Library/Unsplash CC

The European Commission may have lost its court case about Apple’s $14.8 billion tax bill, but it continues to believe that it’s morally in the right.

“We do not consider it normal that the largest corporates get away with paying one percent tax at most,” European Commission executive vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis told reporters in the aftermath.

Apple faces more antitrust scrutiny in Europe, this time over e-books

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Kobo
Kobo's e-book app is available through the App Store.
Photo: Rakuten

Apple faces another antitrust complaint in the European Union, this time from Japanese tech company Rakuten. The anti-competition complaint relates to Apple’s e-book business, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.

In response, the EU opened an official investigation into the App Store. On Tuesday, EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the government will scrutinize Cupertino’s business practices. “We need to ensure that Apple’s rules do not distort competition in markets where Apple is competing with other app developers, for example with its music streaming service Apple Music or with Apple Books,” Vestager said. “I have therefore decided to take a close look at Apple’s App Store rules and their compliance with EU competition rules.”

Tile takes complaints about Apple to the EU Commission

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Tile trackers help find lost dogs.
Apple is accused to making Tile trackers harder to use as it prepares to launch a competing product.
Photo: Tile

Tile, a startup that makes location-aware tracking tags, told the European Commission’s Competition department that Apple isn’t playing fair. It claims the iPhone maker has moved to “completely disadvantage” its smaller rival, even as Apple prepares to launch its own tracking tags.

The accessory maker told the U.S. government the same thing earlier this year.

Signal is the European Commission’s encrypted messaging app of choice

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Signal app
Signal is all about privacy.
Photo: Signal

The European Commission doesn’t want its staff using WhatsApp or iMessage for internal communications. Instead, they must start using end-to-end-encrypted messaging app Signal as part of a push toward greater security.

“Signal has been selected as the recommended application for public instant messaging,” noted an instruction that reportedly appeared on internal EC messaging boards in early February.