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The EU approves legislation that requires Apple to accept side-loaded apps and more

Apple will no longer be the decider of what's allowed on iPhone.
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The European Parliament has formally adopted the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA), now collectively called the Digital Services Package. The acts were first proposed to the European Commission in 2020. 

The DMA and DSA target “gatekeeper” Big Tech companies like Google, Meta, and Amazon. The “gatekeeper” definition also fits Apple because of its annual turnover in the EU, its “entrenched and durable position,” and owning platforms with a huge number of active users.

Related: The EU’s Digital Markets Act is an unprecedented move against Big Tech

Under the DMA, gatekeepers like Apple will be required to:

  • Allow users to sideload apps directly from the internet and from third-party stores.
  • Make services such as voice and video calling and messaging interoperable with third-party services. 
  • Allow app developers to offer third-party payments systems.
  • Make sure all apps can be uninstalled.
  • Allow users the option to change the default voice assistant. 
  • Give developers access to hardware features like near-field communication technology, secure elements and processors, authentication mechanisms, and the software used to control those technologies.
  • Share data and metrics such as ads and marketing performance data with developers and competitors. 
  • Establish an independent “compliance function” group to ensure compliance with the laws. 
  • Inform the commission of acquisitions and mergers. 

The DMA also ensures gatekeepers do not:

  • Require developers to use specific frameworks and services including payment systems, identity providers, and browser engines. 
  • Give a preference to their own products, apps, and services. 
  • Pre-install certain apps and require users to use those apps as their default. 
  • Push unfair terms and conditions for business users. 

Non-compliance with the DMA results in fines of up to 10% of the company’s global annual turnover, or 20% if the rules are repeatedly broken, and 5% periodic fines. The commission will impose additional sanctions, like forcing a company to sell parts of its business, for “systematic infringements.”

EU’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager has created a DMA taskforce of 80 members, though some legislators say the number should be bigger. 

Now, all that is remaining is for the European Council to adopt the Digital Service Package, with enforcement expected to start in the fall. 

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