The U.K. Holds Firm in the Fight for Fair Competition With the DMCC Act, But It’s Not Over Yet

For more than a year, the U.K. government has been working to redefine how the internet works in the U.K., giving consumers greater choice and control over their digital lives and empowering small businesses to have a fair shot at competing with online giants. Having been rightly prioritized as the most important bill to be finalized before the U.K. prepares for a general election, the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers (DMCC) is now law. It promises to revolutionize the U.K. digital landscape, forcing Big Tech companies like Apple to compete fairly for consumers’ business and opening up unprecedented opportunities for creators across the U.K. to thrive.

Done right, the DMCC can have manifold benefits. For consumers, the DMCC makes the digital marketplace more competitive, lowering prices and giving them more choice and control. For businesses and creators, it delivers the opportunities they need to grow, compete, and succeed. And for the U.K. as a whole, it makes the country a more globally competitive and attractive place to do business.

But even with the law now firmly in place, the fight isn’t over. 

As Spotify’s Founder & CEO Daniel Ek points out, “Apple has spent millions—in country after country—trying to circumvent and make a mockery of laws like the DMCC. They’ve already broken rules in the U.S., Netherlands, Japan, South Korea, and Europe. The DMCC has the potential to unlock real competition and growth and Apple must be held accountable in the U.K. because we cannot miss the opportunity to get it right.”

Similar to the DMCC, the E.U.’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) was supposed to end the unfair stifling of innovation that Apple had tried to disguise as security protections. But in response to the law, Apple has purposefully created an alternative to the status quo of the 30% commission fee it charges for in-app purchases. They now force developers to pay Apple a 0.50 fee for every customer download, in addition to a recurring 17% digital goods fee for every purchase made. Under the DMA, developers would now owe Apple millions if their apps were to go viral.

Dustee Jenkins, Spotify’s Chief Public Affairs Officer, said, “We were proud of Europe for leading the way and assumed Apple would have no choice but to comply with the law. But we were wrong—it’s not been enough. This can’t be allowed to happen in the U.K. It would undermine this world-leading piece of legislation, harming consumers and businesses across the country. Learnings have to be taken from Apple’s continued bad behavior around the world and the DMCC has to be implemented quickly and forcefully to break Apple’s stranglehold on the market.”

With the DMCC now enforceable, the U.K. has an Apple-shaped target on its back. For the DMCC to work as those who have designed it intended, the following must also occur:

  • The App Store and iOS should be designated promptly, with this designation being the first focus of the Digital Markets Unit (DMU). Apple themselves have even acknowledged the shortcomings in their App Store to increase competition. App stores are often people’s main gateway to the internet, and the competition regulator has already found that Apple’s anti-competitive behavior is costing U.K. consumers billions.
  • Action should be taken as soon as possible with eyes open to the likelihood that Apple will fight tooth and nail to avoid opening up to competition. The longer this takes, the more this is costing businesses and consumers and threatening the future of U.K. tech innovation.

Importantly, the regulator has political backing to use its powers as robustly as possible to enforce the regulation. 

The DMCC is the first step in giving power back to U.K. consumers. The U.K. now has the opportunity to lead the fight against Apple’s market dominance and show the rest of the world how it’s done.