Apple Says It Has Complied With Dutch App Store Order

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Apple argues proposal to Netherlands consumer regulator requires only ‘minor technical change’ and no additional costs, as App Store fines hit 25m euros

Apple in a letter to the Dutch consumer affairs regulator argued that has complied with an order to allow certain apps to use alternative payment methods.

In the letter, dated Monday, the iPhone maker told the Netherlands’ Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) that the solution it offered would require only a “minor technical change” for developers with no additional costs to them, Reuters reported.

The ACM last week levied its fifth weekly fine of 5 million euros (£4.2m), for a total of 25m euros out of a possible total of 50m euros, over what it called Apple’s failure to comply with its initial order.

Last year the regulator found Apple was abusing its dominant market position and told it to allow dating apps to use alternate payment methods.

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Apple Store at The Grove in Los Angeles. Image credit: Apple

Compliance row

The tech giant has come under scrutiny in a number of countries, including the US, for its mandatory in-app payment system and its levy of a 30 percent commission on in-app purchases in most cases.

The round of fines began after Apple missed a 15 January deadline to make changes.

The regulator said last week that Apple had not offered any new proposal for compliance in the past week.

“We have clearly explained to Apple how they can comply with ACM’s requirements,” the regulator said at the time.

“So far, however, they have refused to put forward any serious proposals.”

‘Dominant position’

The regulator said it found Apple’s attitude “regrettable” since the decision was upheld in court on 24 December, adding that Apple’s “dominant position” entails extra responsibilities with regard to its customers and society at large.

Apple told dating-app developers they could submit an alternate version of their apps using a third-party payment system – but said it would continue to charge a 27 percent commission on in-app purchases it does not process, only slightly below the 30 percent on those it does process.

The ACM said this proposed solution places an unreasonable burden on developers and does not amount to compliance.

It is understood that all five of the fines to date remain outstanding.

The EU is currently at work on adopting proposed legislation known as the Digital Markets Act (DMA) that would allow for fines of up to 10 percent of a company’s annual global turnover, in the case of firms considered to be “gatekeepers”.

Apple said last year the DMA threatened to open a “Pandora’s box” that could expose iPhone users to security threats.