New European Union Law Could Ban Apple and Google From Pre-installing Own Apps

Oct 1, 2020 21:44 EDT
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The European Union is working on a new law that might ban tech companies from pre-installing apps on their products, and force them to share customer data with competitors to give them equal opportunities to compete.

Dubbed the Digital Services Act, the new laws will force the likes of Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon to share customer data with other tech companies, as long as they want to use it for their own business needs. The law will also limit how much data would companies be allowed to collect and use from business users. For example, an advertising platform will not be allowed to use customer data for anything other than its advertising services.

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The biggest change, if the law is passed, will be to the limit on allowing platforms to pre-install apps on their phones and computers. Although this draft is in an early phase and its final form might be different, such a change could mean that smartphone makers, computer manufacturers, and even console makers would not be allowed to pre-install any software or forced to allow their pre-installed software to be uninstalled.

As per Financial Times:

The draft recommends that Big Tech might be prohibited from favoritism of their own services on their websites or platforms, to the hinderance of competitors, which business ought to not be enabled to pre-install their own applications on hardware gadgets, such as laptop computers or phones, or force other business to solely pre-install their software application.

Separately, Brussels desires big platforms to let users uninstall any pre-installed apps on gadgets such as mobile phones and computers, according to the draft, which remains in its early phases.

The law is aimed at curbing the dominance of big tech over their platforms, however, we can imagine that they would not be happy with is. Many devices, such as the Google Pixel, are primarily bought by customers because of their first-party software experience. Not being allowed to pre-install their own apps and services would also give little incentive to many companies to invest so heavily in their platforms.

In its current stage, the law is also vague about how it might impact the ability of the big tech companies to include their own app distribution methods such as App Store and Play Store, on their devices since these are also technically pre-installed software.

At the moment, the European Union is holding public consultation with customers, including businesses, to understand their take on the legislation.

Products mentioned in this post

Apple Air Pod Pro
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Google Pixel
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