EU Watchdog Tells Apple That Security Issues Cannot Stifle Competition 

Margrethe Vestager

Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission (EC) executive vice-president and competition commissioner, said on Friday (July 2) that Apple can’t use privacy and security concerns to stifle competitors on its App Store, Yahoo Finance reported.

Security and privacy issues were the central reasons that Apple CEO Tim Cook gave for stopping software installations outside the App Store.

The EC’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) could mandate that Apple make the App Store open so that users can download apps from the internet or third-party app stores — known as side-loading, according to the news outlet.

Cook said at a recent event that the proposal would effectively undermine the iPhone’s security and privacy, a notion that Vestager agrees with.

“I think privacy and security is of paramount importance to everyone,” Vestager said, per Reuters. “The important thing here is, of course, that it’s not a shield against competition because I think customers will not give up neither security nor privacy if they use another app store or if they sideload.”

Although Vestager said she welcomed changes, other EU countries and lawmakers would have to weigh in before anything becomes law. 

“I think that it is possible to find solutions to this,” she told Reuters.

The antitrust head also said that Apple’s privacy changes, as opposed to Google’s plan to block cookies, are no longer in her crosshairs for now.

For his part, Cook took aim at the EU’s proposed regulations, saying the DMA could harm consumers by weakening the security of iOS devices.

Apple is facing new allegations from the German authority Bundeskartellamt, which is the fourth investigation by the authority of a large digital firm. Each case is the result of an amendment to the German Competition Act.

Both Apple and Amazon are looking at antitrust investigations in Spain by the antitrust watchdog CNMC.