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EU competition chief criticizes Apple from both sides over AI delays

by xyonent
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It’s fair to say that Apple and the European Commission are not exactly friends, as the two sides are at odds over Apple’s compliance, or alleged lack of compliance, with the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), designed to curb the power of big tech companies.

Apple announced that it would delay the rollout of certain features, including AI tools, in the European Union due to concerns that DMA interoperability requirements could force the company to compromise the integrity of its products in ways that put users’ privacy and data security at risk. As it turns out, the EU isn’t too happy about the decision.

The request to delay the introduction of Apple Intelligence in the EU “is an astonishing, open declaration that they know 100% that this is another way to cripple competition where they are already based,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said at a Forum Europe event. Vestager added that the “shortened version of the DMA” means companies must be open to competition if they are to continue operating in the region.

I’m not here to defend Apple, but these comments are sure to raise some eyebrows. “Personally, I’m relieved that I no longer have the AI ​​update service on my iPhone,” she said. Apple intends to roll out Apple Intelligence more broadly in Europe, but is taking a cautious approach to the technology in the region due to “regulatory uncertainty” to ensure it doesn’t have to sacrifice user safety.

At the moment, the European Commission is conducting multiple investigations into the company for alleged violations of the DMA. This week, an investigation was launched into alleged violations of the law’s anti-inducement provisions by prohibiting app developers from freely informing users about alternative payment options outside the company’s ecosystem. If convicted, Apple could be fined up to 10% of its annual global turnover. Based on 2023 turnover, the fine could be up to $38 billion. The percentage of the fine could be doubled for repeat violations.

Earlier this year, before the DMA came into force, the European Commission fined Apple for violating previous anti-inducement rules. The Commission said Apple had blocked rival music streaming apps from telling users they could get a lower subscription price if they signed up outside of the iOS app.

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