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Japan passes bill to curtail Apple, Google limits on third-party apps

Japan passed a bill to place new rules on Apple and Google app stores on Wednesday. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Japan passed a bill to place new rules on Apple and Google app stores on Wednesday. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

June 12 (UPI) -- Japan's parliament on Wednesday passed new legislation aiming to foster competition in the tech industry by preventing giants like Apple and Google from limiting third-party apps in their smartphone stores.

The bill would prohibit Apple's iOS and Google's Android smartphone operating systems from preventing the sale and services of apps that directly compete with their own apps. The new measure would also prevent Apple and Google from prioritizing their services over third parties in searches.

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Penalties for violations are steep, 20% of domestic revenues for the first offense that could rise to 30%, more than triple existing fines under Japan's anti-competition rules.

Limiting Apple and Google's app store dominance had become popular in Japan with the growth of independent app developers who have complained about access to the digital marketplace. The bill quickly became a unifier between the ruling and opposition parties in Japan's legislature.

The measure is not expected to go into effect until the end of 2025. It is modeled after recent anti-competition legislation targeting digital companies in the European Union.

One of the most effective laws there has been the Digital Markets Act, which European officials have been able to use to identify large tech companies as "gatekeepers," placing special rules on them that protect smaller apps and foster competition.

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Under the new law, the European Commission designated Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta and Microsoft as gatekeepers and gave them six months to comply with the new rules.

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