Dutch competition regulators nearing draft decision in Apple investigation

Stephen Nellis
·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: The Apple logo is seen at an Apple Store in Brooklyn

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) - Dutch competition authorities are nearing a draft decision in a years-long investigation into Apple Inc over rules requiring software developers to use its in-app payment system, according to a letter sent this month to developers involved in the case.

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets, or ACM, said in 2019 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-apple-antitrust-netherlands/apple-in-dutch-antitrust-spotlight-for-allegedly-promoting-own-apps-idUSKCN1RN215 that it was investigating Apple's requirement that developers use its payment system, which charges commissions of between 15% and 30%.

If it issues a decision soon, the ACM could become the first antitrust authority to rule on Apple's app-store payment policies, which have long drawn complaints from app developers. The European Commission last year opened a formal investigation into the iPhone maker over some of the same practices.

In letters to developers involved in the investigation sent earlier this month, which were described to Reuters by two people who received them, the regulator said it was nearing a draft decision in the case.

It gave no indication of how it would rule.

An ACM spokesman confirmed that the Apple investigation remains open but said the regulator could not comment on its progress.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the confidential letter to developers, the regulator is also scrutinizing Apple rules that bar developers from telling users about cheaper payment alternatives outside of the app.

"It's not just that Apple is inflicting economic harm," said David Heinemeier Hansson, co-founder of software firm Basecamp and one of those who received the letter, said of those rules. "Apple is essentially giving us a gag order."

Basecamp and another developer, Match Group, filed enforcement requests with the Dutch regulator after the investigation was underway.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco. Editing by Jonathan Weber and Sonya Hepinstall)