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On Dutch Apple Fine, Vestager Says US Tech Giants May Prefer Fines To Compliance

 |  February 23, 2022

The European Union’s head of digital policy, EVP Margrethe Vestager, has hit out at Apple, suggesting the company is deliberately choosing to pay fines to avoid compliance with a Dutch antitrust order requiring it to allow dating apps to make use of third party payment tech when selling in-app content, reported The Global and Mail.

On Monday the tech giant racked up a fifth penalty payment of €5M in the Netherlands, bringing its total fine to date from the Dutch competition authority over this issue to €25M — still with no compliance in sight.

European Commission Vice-President and digital chief Margrethe Vestager said Apple’s behaviour could indicate other big companies behave similarly.

“Some gatekeepers may be tempted to play for time or try to circumvent the rules,” she said in an online speech at a U.S. awards ceremony on Tuesday.

“Apple’s conduct in the Netherlands these days may be an example. As we understand it, Apple essentially prefers paying periodic fines, rather than comply with a decision of the Dutch Competition Authority on the terms and conditions for third parties to access its App Store.”

The Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) said Apple abused its dominant market position by not allowing software applications in the Netherlands to use any other payment modes. The company had a Jan. 15 deadlines to comply with the ACM, but didn’t do so.

Apple argues it had complied with the ACM ruling by letting dating app makers submit a new app with alternative payment methods enabled. The company also says it still plans to charge a 27% commission on any in-app payments it doesn’t process — a slight drop from the 30% it charges now.

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