Dutch watchdog fines Apple $5.7 million again in App Store dispute


FILE PHOTO: Logo of an Apple store is seen as Apple Inc. reports fourth quarter earnings in Washington, U.S., January 27, 2022. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -The Dutch antitrust watchdog on Monday fined apple Apple 5 million euros ($5.72 million) for a third time for failing to allow software application makers in the Netherlands to use non-Apple payment methods for dating apps listed in the company's App Store.

The Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has been levying weekly fines of 5 million euros on Apple since the company missed a Jan. 15 deadline to make changes ordered by the watchdog.

Apple, which could not immediately be reached for comment, has twice published information on its own blog about changes it is making to comply with the Dutch order. However, the ACM said on Monday it was not receiving enough information from the U.S. company to assess whether Apple was actually complying.

"ACM is disappointed in Apple’s behaviour and actions," it said in a statement. It noted that Dutch courts have upheld its decision, which found that Apple's behaviour violated competition law.

Apple is under pressure in many countries over the commissions it charges on in-app purchases, with the U.S. Senate approving a bill last Thursday that would bar Apple and Alphabet Inc's Google from requiring users to use their payment systems.

Apple on Jan. 15 first asserted it had complied with the Dutch regulator's December order https://www.reuters.com/technology/apples-app-store-broke-competition-laws-dutch-watchdog-says-2021-12-24 , which covers only dating apps like Match Group's Tinder. But the regulator responded that Apple hadn't actually yet made the changes - it had just indicated it would.

On Feb. 3, Apple made a further statement on its blog https://developer.apple.com/support/storekit-external-entitlement, apparently laying out how developers could now implement the alternative payment methods.

One important footnote was that Apple said it would still charge a 27% commission on the in-app payments it does not process, only slightly below the 30% it currently charges. The company asserted that was "consistent with the ACM order".

A spokesperson for the ACM said the agency could not comment beyond its public statements on whether a 27% commission would be consistent with its order.

Apple is separately appealing the ACM's original December decision, arguing that alternative payment systems pose a security risk to users.

($1 = 0.8744 euros)

(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Susan Fenton)

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