Russia fines Apple $12 million for ‘abusing’ apps market

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A Russian government regulator has slapped a fine of more than $12 million on U.S. tech giant Apple for “abusing” its dominant market position by giving preference to its own applications.

“Apple was found to have abused its dominant position in the iOS distribution market through a series of sequential actions which resulted in a competitive advantage for its own products,” the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) said in a statement on April 27.

“On April 26, 2021, the FAS of Russia imposed a turnover fine on Apple Inc of 906.3 million rubles ($12.1 million) for violating anti-monopoly legislation,” the statement said.

FAS said the decision came after ruling in favor of a complaint brought against Apple by cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab.

Apple told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency on April 27 that it “respects the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service of Russia, but does not agree with the decision” and is appealing the ruling.

The move by FAS comes after Moscow earlier this month enforced controversial legislation demanding that smartphones, tablets, and computers sold in the country come with pre-installed domestic software and apps in what was described by authorities as an effort to promote Russia’s tech companies.

However, critics say the measure, which requires all devices with Internet access sold in the country to have pre-installed approved software produced by Russian firms, is the latest attempt to tighten state control over the Internet.

Failure to observe the new requirements will result in fines starting in July.

Western technology firms have been facing increasing scrutiny in Russia in recent months under the pretext of fighting extremism and protecting minors.

Twitter has been punitively slowed down over a failure to delete content authorities said is illegal, while Google, Facebook, and TikTok have all come under fire.

In 2019, Russia passed legislation on the development of a “sovereign Internet” network that would cut off the country’s access to the World Wide Web, a move critics say is meant to muzzle free speech.

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