It’s rare that a European regulation helps to reduce censorship rather than facilitate it – but that’s what has happened.
The European Union has introduced a number of new rules and regulations that are going to give more transparency to developers as well as publishers. The rules will impact Apple’s App Store and Google Play.
Up until now, the App Store could randomly pull down content or even whole apps altogether without any prior notice whatsoever, a major issue for those whose whole livelihood is based on it.
The proposals were made a year ago and with the new regulations in place, the App Store and Google Play will have to give at least 30 days of notice before taking down any app.
This will now allow app developers to have a dialogue with both the App Store or Google Play, among other such digital forefronts. From now on, app developers will no longer have to endure sudden app pulldowns. They can instead prevent such events and resolve any issues.
What’s more, Apple will be forced to be more transparent with regards to the way it ranks apps on the App Store.
In cases where any issues arise and they are not resolved through a formal review process, an external reviewer must be appointed. It is also worth noting that any communication from App Store or Google Play, among other such platforms, must be done in a “plain and intelligible language.”
If either App Store or Google Play are pushing any apps to the top ranks or provide “differentiated treatment” due to any promotional reasons, it must be disclosed as well. At a juncture where Apple is being accused of pushing its own apps and preferring them over others, rules such as this will possibly help clear the air around the whole issue.
“We need to ensure that Apple’s rules do not distort competition in markets where Apple is competing with other app developers. For example, with its music streaming service Apple Music or with Apple Books,” said Margrethe Vestager, the EU Executive Vice-President.
While Apple has been under fire for preferential treatment of its own apps, the company believes otherwise and says that its App Store is more like a “quality department store.” A very Apple answer if ever we heard one.