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Apple defends its controversial EU App Store plans

App Store logo

Responding to accusations that it has made minimal effort to allow third-party App Stores in EU, Apple says it focused expressly on complying with the region's new laws while protecting users security.

In January 2024, in response to the European Union's Digital Markets Act requiring firms such as Apple to allow third-party alternative app stores, Apple announced a wide-ranging plan for developers in the region. It has been widely criticized by rival firms, with Spotify calling the new terms "extortion," and Epic Games saying it was "malicious compliance."

Following news that Meta and Microsoft are lobbying the EU with the accusation that Apple is failing to comply with the new laws, an Apple spokesperson told AppleInsider that it had spent a year working with the European Commission, and in complying with every requirement, also worked to add security safeguards for users.

The statement does not specifically address accusations of its proposals being "very prohibitive," as Microsoft called them. However, in stressing that it worked with the European Commission, Apple is making a case that accusations of it failing to comply with the new law cannot be correct.

Apple's statement to us in full:

Apple's approach to the Digital Markets Act was guided by two simple goals: complying with the law and reducing the inevitable, increased risks the DMA creates for our EU users.

First, that meant studying the Digital Markets Act to figure out how iOS, Safari, and the App Store could best meet its requirements. Teams at Apple spent months in conversation with the European Commission — and in little more than a year, created more than 600 new APIs and a wide range of developer tools. Those changes reflect the work of hundreds of Apple team members who spent tens of thousands of hours creating the new capabilities necessary to comply with the DMA.

For every change, teams at Apple continued to put our users at the center of everything we do. That meant creating safeguards to protect EU users to the greatest extent possible and to respond to new threats, including new vectors for malware and viruses, opportunities for scams and fraud, and challenges to ensuring apps are functional on Apple's platforms. Still, these protections don't eliminate new threats the DMA creates.

Apple's focus remains on creating the most secure system possible within the DMA's requirements. But even with these safeguards in place, many risks remain — and in the EU, the DMA's changes will result in a less secure system.

We're limiting these changes to the European Union because we're concerned about their impacts on the privacy and security of our users' experience — which remains our North Star. These changes comply with the DMA, and in the weeks and months ahead, we'll continue to engage with the European Commission, the developer community, and our EU users about their impacts.

Apple's changes to the EU App Store are due to go live on March 7, 2024. After that date, the company can be investigated by the EU for non-compliance and, potentially, fined 10% of total worldwide turnover.