Italy’s antitrust probes Apple for alleged abuse of app market dominance

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ROME, May 11 (Reuters) – Italy’s antitrust agency AGCM said on Thursday it had opened a probe into U.S. technology giant Apple for alleged abuse of its dominant position in the apps market.

The watchdog said Apple penalised third-party app developers by imposing “a more restrictive privacy policy” than it applies to itself, from April 2021.

Furthermore, external app developers are disadvantaged “in terms of the quality of the data made available by Apple,” the AGCM said in its statement.

A spokesperson for Apple Italy was not immediately available for comment.

Under European Union competition law, companies found guilty of abuse of market dominance risk a fine of up to 10% of annual turnover.

According to the Italian watchdog, users of non-Apple apps have more visible and more strongly worded prompts to block data tracking.

Third-party app developers are also offered less comprehensive information about the success of their ads campaigns, the AGCM said.

“Apple’s alleged discriminatory conduct may cause a fall in advertising revenues for third-party advertisers, to the benefit of Apple’s commercial division,” the authority said.

This may drive competitors away from the app development and distribution market, benefitting Apple’s internal apps, its mobile devices, and its iOS operating system, it added.

Apple and other tech giants have come under repeated scrutiny from European regulators.

On Wednesday, the European Commission said it was seeking more information on Apple’s mobile payment system as part of an ongoing antitrust case against the iPhone maker.

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