EU Warns Apple Against Using Privacy and Security to ‘Shield Against Competition’

In an online news conference at the European Union (EU)’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Europe’s tech chief Margrethe Vestager warned Apple against using privacy and security concerns to suppress competition and establish a monopoly on apps for its devices — the basis of the EU’s ongoing antitrust case against the iPhone maker (via Reuters).

Vestager currently serves as the Executive Vice President of the European Commission for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, as well as European Commissioner for Competition.

Last year, Vestager introduced the Digital Markets Act (DMA). While the DMA still requires input from the members of the EU and lawmakers before it can become law, the proposed rules would force Apple to allow users to download and install apps from third-party app stores and the internet (commonly referred to as side-loading).

In an interview last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook knocked on Vestager’s DMA, saying that it would “destroy the security of the iPhone.”

During the news conference on Friday, Vestager said she is just as concerned about users’ privacy and security as Cook. “I think privacy and security is of paramount importance to everyone,” she said in an interview afterwards.

“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,” she added.

Vestager went on to say that she is open to input on the current language of the DMA, as long as any proposed changes are in the best interest of the end user.

Vestager also said that Apple’s recent privacy changes, including the introduction of ‘App Tracking Transparency’ with iOS 14.5, are not in her crosshairs, for the time being, even expressing her approval of the move.