European Commission Holds ‘Apple DMA Compliance Workshop’

This was an opportunity for critics of Apple’s DMA compliance plans to address questions to representatives from Apple. There’s video of the 9-hour workshop, but it’s locked behind a password (insert joke about the EC’s support for openness here). I can’t imagine sitting through that, even at 2× speed. Lucky for us, Kay Jebelli followed along live and took copious notes in a thread on Twitter/X:

Interesting detail: the EC told Apple that they aren’t allowed to notarize apps to protect users. So “government authorities are the ones that are going to have to step up to protect” app developers and users from the risks of these 3rd-party apps.

In other words, the EC has a problem with Apple doing any vetting whatsoever on apps distributed outside the App Store. The EC will take care of making sure malware, phishing, scams, clones, IP rip-offs, and pirated apps aren’t getting through. This also means that apps distributed outside the app store will be able to use private APIs. One can argue that what Apple is calling “notarization” in its DMA compliance plan is actually just a less extensive form of app review, but without this step, Apple has no oversight over software distributed outside the store at all. That seems to be exactly what the EC is saying the DMA demands. I don’t think this is going to go well.

[Update, March 20: Jebelli, in a follow-up: “Looking through some of what else has been put out, I could have misheard, and the point was that notarization doesn’t address all of the risks of alternate distribution, and it’s these other risks where governments will have to step up (not due to total removal of notarization).” So it looks like Apple’s plan to notarize and inspect all apps remains.]

Pushed again on the CTF, Apple re-asserts that it is fully compliant with the DMA. It isn’t charging an additional fee for interoperability, but compensation for technologies that it was previously monetising through its original model (effectively tolling digital app sales).

We know from today’s workshop that (a) Apple has already gotten specific pushback from the EC on aspects of its DMA compliance plan; and (b) Apple continues to think the CTF is perfectly cromulent under the terms of the DMA. That to me says the CTF is going to fly. The idea that the entire CTF is disallowed under the DMA is an argument that the DMA disallows a company from monetizing access to its own platform and IP. EC fans may be surprised to hear this but the EC is a capitalist body. I really don’t think they want to send a message to the world that the EU will strip companies of their own platforms. As Jebelli writes in an aside in his thread:

It’s pretty incredible if you take a step back, in what other industry do entire regulatory frameworks pop up to address a dispute between different businesses over the question of “Why can’t I have gratuitous access to this infrastructure, at zero cost to myself?”

The crybaby Spotifys in the EU have already gotten a lot from the EC protection racket, including a large number of huge concessions in Apple’s DMA compliance plan. Not paying anything to Apple under any condition is all they’ll settle for though.

Monday, 18 March 2024