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Russian draft bill would force third-party app stores, cap commissions at 20%

Credit: Russian State Duma

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A Russian legislator introduced a draft bill on Tuesday that would cap Apple's app commissions at 20% and could force the company to allow third-party app stores on its devices.

The draft legislation, submitted on Tuesday by Russian State Duma member Fedor Tumosov, would impact mobile app marketplaces like the Google Play Store and Apple's App Store. The latter platform has been accused of anticompetitive behavior by Russia's anti-monopoly authorities.

If adopted, the legislation would cap a company's cut of app sales and in-app purchases to 20%, Reuters reported. It would "oblige" device makers to allow the installation of third-party app stores on mobile devices, Tumosov wrote on social media.

Additionally, the bill would require companies that charge fees on app sales to pay a third of those commissions to a special internet technology training fund every quarter.

Apple currently charges a 15% to 30% commission on sales of digital products in its app store, in-line with other companies like Google. That cut has received criticism from both developers and antitrust regulators, one of whom likened the fee to "highway robbery."

"In recent weeks, the conflict between developers and owners of the so-called "marketplaces", that is, application stores, has only grown. Apple's conflict with Epic Games, Facebook's attempt to inform users about Apple's imputed tax - all of this led me to believe that the problem could be resolved through legislation," he said.

Tumosov also waved away concerns that the move would compel Apple to leave the Russian market, claiming that the "trend is worldwide, and Russia should not lag behind."

Some authorities in Russia are voicing their opposition to the bill, saying that it may create a "dangerous precedent" if the state imposes such regulations, according to Russia-based business publication Kommersant.

The legislation comes in the midst of global antitrust scrutiny of Apple and other tech giants. The CEOs of major tech companies, including Apple, testified in July before a U.S. House Judiciary Committee as part of a broader probe examining the power of U.S. technology companies.

Apple is also in the middle of an ongoing legal feud with Epic Games over the implementation of a payment system that bypassed Apple's App Store commissions.