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EU Investigates Apple-Epic Games Dispute under New Digital Markets Act

Brussels, March 08, 2024, The Europe Today: The European Union (EU) announced on Thursday that it will launch an investigation into the ongoing dispute between tech giant Apple and Epic Games, the developer behind the popular Fortnite video game franchise. The conflict revolves around Epic Games’ accusations that Apple impeded its efforts to establish an independent game store on iOS devices within the European market, a move deemed in violation of the newly implemented Digital Markets Act (DMA) EU regulation.

The DMA, which officially came into effect on Thursday, aims to foster fair and open digital markets by regulating the behavior of major tech corporations. European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton emphasized the significance of the DMA in preventing gatekeepers from silencing developers, stating, “Under the DMA, there is no room for threats by gatekeepers to silence developers.” Commissioner Breton further announced that the European Commission’s services have been instructed to prioritize an examination of Apple’s termination of Epic’s developer account.

In a separate statement, the European Commission called upon Apple to provide clarification on how its actions comply with the DMA regulations. Apple, in its defense, argued that Epic Games breached contractual obligations by establishing its own app store. Citing a previous court decision, Apple asserted its right to terminate any or all entities under Epic Games’ control at its sole discretion.

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney emphasized the urgency of addressing Apple’s alleged DMA violation, urging “swift action” from regulatory authorities. The DMA places Apple and other major tech companies, including Google parent company Alphabet, Amazon, TikTok developer ByteDance, Meta, and Microsoft, under increased scrutiny to ensure fair and open digital markets.

The EU’s stance is clear, with gatekeepers prohibited from employing unfair practices against business users and customers. Such practices include unauthorized user tracking and preventing the uninstallation of pre-installed apps. The EU anticipates that these rules will lead to more and better services, fairer prices, and improved overall market dynamics. Violators of the DMA regulations may face substantial fines.

Apple, in response, argued that the DMA regulation in Europe exposes iOS users to security risks. The tech giant expressed concerns that downloading apps from sources outside the iOS system could make users more susceptible to malware, scams, or illicit services. The ongoing dispute underscores the growing tension between major tech corporations and regulatory authorities as the DMA begins to shape the landscape of digital markets in the European Union.