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European Union regulators accuse Apple of violating antitrust laws

Regulators in the European Union have accused Apple of violating antitrust laws with its App Store.

The European Commission alleged Friday that Apple has "distorted competition" and "abused its dominant position" in the music streaming market. Regulators pointed to the company mandating that developers use its in-app purchase system, under which Apple charges a fee on subscriptions, while restricting their ability to inform users about other purchasing methods, The New York Times reports.

"By setting strict rules on the App store that disadvantage competing music streaming services, Apple deprives users of cheaper music streaming choices and distorts competition," Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager said. "This is done by charging high commission fees on each transaction in the App store for rivals and by forbidding them from informing their customers of alternative subscription options."

Apple's competitors have long taken issue with these App Store rules, with the creator of the popular game Fortnite filing a lawsuit over the company's alleged "unfair and anti-competitive actions." Spotify also complained to the European Commission over the App Store, prompting this probe.

Spotify had particularly called out Apple over the fee it charges developers on subscriptions, and the EU regulators found that in most cases, "streaming providers passed this fee on to end users by raising prices." Apple slammed Spotify in response to Friday's finding, per The New York Times, arguing "they want all the benefits of the App Store but don't think they should have to pay anything for that." Apple added, "The commission's argument on Spotify's behalf is the opposite of fair competition.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple will be able to mount a defense before the European Commission prior a decision being made, but "if found guilty, Apple could face a fine of up to 10 of its annual revenue and be forced to adjust its business practices."