MADRID – Music-streaming service Spotify has filed an antitrust complaint in Europe against Apple, a new salvo in the broader battle over how and whether to rein in alleged wrongdoing by tech giants.
Spotify’s complaint, filed late Monday to the antitrust arm of the European Union, alleges that Apple in recent years has abused its control over which apps appear in its App Store. The restrictions, Spotify claims, are designed to restrict music-streaming services that compete with Apple’s own Apple Music.
Spotify claims that Apple made it difficult for rival subscription services to market themselves to users without using Apple’s payment system, which generally takes a 30 percent cut of transactions. Spotify’s app doesn’t face the same restrictions on in the Play store run by Alphabet’s Google, Spotify said. Spotify also said Apple at times rejected security updates of its app and threatened to kick it out of its App Store for allegedly anticompetitive reasons.
“Apps should compete on merits, not who owns the app store,” said Horacio Gutierrez, Spotify’s general counsel.
Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
A spokesman for the European Commission, the EU’s antitrust enforcer, confirmed that they received the Spotify complaint “which we are assessing under our standard procedures.”
Spotify’s complaint – the first official one made public at the EU level about Apple’s App Store – escalates the global battle over how to regulate tech giants on topics ranging from privacy and taxation to hate speech and competition.
The European Commission in 2016 ordered Apple to repay $14.5 billion in tax breaks to Ireland, a decision that earned competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager the nickname “tax lady” from United States President Donald Trump.
In following years, the commission slapped Google with record fines totaling $7.7 billion in 2017 and 2018 for alleged anticompetitive behavior, has implemented a strict new privacy law that has spawned many investigations and is close to approving new copyright rules aimed at making tech giants pay more money to music companies and news organizations.