EU Plans to Ban Tech Companies From Pre-Installing Apps, Force Them to Share Data With Competitors

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The EU is planning to implement wide-ranging legal measures to compel major tech companies to share data with competitors and give no preference to their own apps and services, according to a new report by the Financial Times.

As part of its new Digital Services Act, the EU is planning to force the likes of Apple, Amazon, and Google to hand over customer data to smaller rivals in an effort to loosen the grip of big tech on consumers. A draft of the legislation stated that tech companies “shall not use data collected on the platform… for [their] own commercial activities… unless they [make it] accessible to business users active in the same commercial activities.”

Likewise, “gatekeeper” platforms that wield their own online marketplaces, such as Apple’s App Store, would be limited from using much of the data they collect. The draft states that “Gatekeepers shall not use data received from business users for advertising services for any other purpose other than advertising services.”

Perhaps most controversially, big tech companies may be banned from preferring their own apps and services. As it stands, this means that companies will not be allowed to pre-install any of their own apps on devices, or force other companies to exclusively pre-install any of their software. There is also the ambition to allow users to uninstall any pre-installed apps.

The plan would be a major blow to Apple and Google, and result in fundamental changes to how operating systems ship and function. However, it is unclear how shipping an iPhone, for example, with no pre-installed Apple apps from would work, when presumably even the ‌App Store‌ itself could not be pre-installed as it would then be a “preferred” app. Downloading apps or using services of any kind on iOS and Android would have to be completely reworked to allow for user choice and third-party options at every level, with no preference for any of the device-maker’s own apps and services at all.

The act contains over 30 paragraphs of specific prohibitions and obligations for tech giants, aimed at curbing their power and influence. The legislation is expected to be publicized in full by the end of this year, and Brussels reportedly hopes to lead global standards for the digital economy, improve competition, and prevent long-lasting antitrust cases.

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