EU squeezes Google, Apple on developers
A new law to tackle the leading players unfair trade practices
13 May, 2017
The Commission is planning a new law aimed at dealing with complaints about unfair trading practices by leading online players such as Apple and Google, news wires reported. It would prepare an initiative by the end of the year to address unfair contractual clauses and trading practices in relations between platforms and businesses. This follows on proposals to remove barriers in online services to improve European companies' chances of competing against US tech giants like Google, Apple and Facebook. An investigation conducted by the Commission last year found that several companies were removing products from their stores without due notice or were not making search results clear enough.
European companies such as Spotify, Rocket Internet and Deezer have complained that online platforms – such as search engines and app stores – abuse their position as gateways to customers to promote their own services or impose imbalanced terms and conditions. The Commission said that initial findings of an investigation launched last year showed platforms were delisting products or services without due notice, restricting access to data or not making search result rankings transparent enough. The Commission wants to establish fair practice criteria, measures to improve transparency and a system to help resolve disputes.
Google and Apple both offer hubs through which others can sell their wares, but if these companies are releasing competing products there is a conflict of interests. Last year, Swedish music streaming company Spotify accused Apple of unfair practices after the iPhone maker refused an update to Spotify on the app store as it would have undermined the competitive potential of Apple Music.
EDiMA, which represents the main online platforms like Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook, said it was “disappointed and astounded” at the announcement. “Considering online platforms 'key gatekeepers' deviates greatly from the progressive thoughts put forward by the Commission in its platform communication in 2016,” it said in a statement.
James Waterworth, vice president of lobby group CCIA Europe which includes Google, Facebook and eBay, said the Commission should use “flexible tools like competition law to resolve any problems on a case by case basis.”