Upcoming EU Ruling Could Mandate Significant Changes to App Store, iMessage, More

BY Chandraveer Mathur

Published 22 Apr 2022

European Union Unsplash

A “working document” of the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) has leaked. A report suggests the legislation could require Apple to make significant changes to the App Store, Messages app, Siri, web browsers, and FaceTime.

For the uninitiated, the DMA legislation in the EU intends to reform Big Tech companies so they are fair in their dealings and third parties (competitors) have a chance to compete on a level playing field. The all-encompassing legislation requires Big Tech firms to share metrics with competition, ensure all the apps for smartphones are uninstallable, and stop preferential treatment of proprietary apps and services on app stores. Broadly, the DMA focuses on improving platform interoperability.

Companies that violate the provisions and guidelines of the DMA would face hefty fines that could amount to as much as 10 percent of the company’s annual global turnover. It could also lead to forced disinvestment.

MacRumors reports that the leaked version of the DMA is close to the “final” one. The document’s provisions have been expanded to prevent large companies from browser “gatekeeping,” i.e. forcing developers to use a particular browser engine, thereby promoting interoperability. For instance, Apple forces all browsers to use WebKit for compatibility with iOS and macOS. Once the DMA comes into force, it could allow third-party browsers such as Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge to use the Chromium engine just like on other operating systems.

Another major provision in the leaked document pertains to matters for which Apple has been in the limelight in recent times, such as allowing sideloading and allowing app developers to use third-party payment gateways. Other interoperability requirements extend to messaging and voice/video calling services. The DMA mandates that Big Tech offerings such as FaceTime and iMessage should be compatible with rival services while offering end-to-end encryption.

The DMA could also mandate changes to the way virtual assistants such as Siri work. It states that users should have the liberty to choose the default virtual assistant, and even pick from third-party alternatives.

The EU’s digital competition chief Margrethe Vestager said last month that the DMA could come into effect “sometime in October.” The law has been provisionally approved by lawmakers in the EU but the Council would need to greenlight it before can come into effect.

Do you think Apple would comply with the DMA and make the required changes, even though they could entail significant rework of the company’s services and systems? Tell us in the comments section below.

[Via MacRumors]