EU seeks explanations from Apple and Google over app store risks

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The European Commission has sent a formal request to Apple and Google asking the tech giants how they identify “systemic risks” to consumers in their respective app stores.

Both the App Store and Google Play have been designated as “Very Large Online Platforms” (VLOPs), which requires them to comply with the Digital Services Act (DSA.) VLOPs are platforms or search engines with more than 45 million monthly users in the EU.

The EC states that it’s looking specifically for information regarding how Google Play and the App Store mitigate “systemic risks relevant to their services, in particular those related to the dissemination of illegal and harmful content, any negative effects on the exercise of fundamental rights, as well as any negative effect on public security, public health, and minors.”

The EC is also asking for more information regarding transparency related to “recommender systems and online advertisements.”

It’s not entirely clear what the European Commission is looking for specifically, as it simply defines it as “illegal and harmful content.” This could be asking Google and Apple about how they assess the safety of an app before it goes live on the app store.

It’s also possible that regulators are assessing how each company determines an appropriate advertisement based on the audience it thinks it will reach.

According to the European Commission’s statement, Google and Apple have until January 15 to comply with the request for information. Once the information is obtained, the EC will determine whether or not it needs to formally proceedings under Article 66 of the DSA.

In October 2022, Apple came under fire for heavily promoting gambling apps in its App Store. Many users were concerned, especially when such ads were showing up next to content geared toward children and gambling addiction recovery apps.

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