European Union San Francisco office opened, after visit to Apple

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A new European Union San Francisco office has been opened, aiming to better liaise with US tech giants on new antitrust laws …


It follows an earlier visit by Members of the European Parliament to a number of US tech giants, including Apple, Google, and Meta.

European Union San Francisco office opened

Silicon Republic reports:

The EU has officially opened its new office in San Francisco to liaise with tech companies based in the US and improve transatlantic relations in the digital space.

Initially co-located with the Irish consulate, the aim of the office is to reinforce EU-US cooperation on digital diplomacy and strengthen the EU’s capacity to communicate with public and private stakeholders such as policymakers, business leaders and civil society in the tech sector.

“The opening of the office in San Francisco responds to the EU’s commitment to strengthen transatlantic technological cooperation and to drive the global digital transformation based on democratic values and standards,” said Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy […]

The office will look to promote EU standards and technologies, digital policies and regulations. It will also look to strengthen cooperation with US stakeholders, including the many tech companies located in nearby Silicon Valley.

The office will be led by Gerard de Graaf, a key EU official who played an important role in the Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act. These landmark pieces of legislation, passed in July, aim to rein in the power of Big Tech and make the internet safer.

Apple at risk from EU antitrust legislation

Apple once had less to fear from EU tech legislation, which was initially focused on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. However, the scope of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) was expanded to include Apple, Microsoft, and other tech giants from an antitrust perspective.

The biggest threat posed to Apple by the DMA is that it could require the company to either allow third-party app stores to compete with its own, or permit sideloading of iOS apps. That’s because Europe defines the iOS market differently to the US court that heard the Epic lawsuit.

The US court decided that the iPhone maker does not have “a dominant position” in the sale of smartphone apps, and is therefore free to say no to anyone wanting to run a competing app store. However, European regulators take a different view.

Their view is that the relevant market is “iOS apps,” and here Apple has a 100% monopoly on their sale and distribution. Edge cases aside, there is no way for a developer to bring an iOS app to market without selling it through the App Store.

9to5Mac’s Take

We’ve noted before that the exact implications of the DMA are unclear:

It’s certain that Apple will have to allow developers to use third-party payment platforms, and/or to steer them to alternative payment options for things like subscriptions. It’s a little less certain that competing app stores will be a requirement, though this certainly appears to be the clear intent.

Whatever the eventual position on that, a second question had arisen: whether the EU had sufficient resources to actually enforce the law. However, establishing a US office certainly signals a clear intent to do so.

The EU can of course only regulate Apple’s activities within the 27 European member states, but US antitrust laws look set to take a similar stance. The iPhone maker does currently have some breathing space, as it appears that a vote won’t take place any time soon. With Republican gains likely in the upcoming midterms, it may be that the legislation is weakened or abandoned altogether.

However, the Apple vs. Epic Games appeal will be heard next month, and both the Department of Justice and 35 state attorneys general are siding with Epic.

Photo: Umer Sayyam/Unsplash

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Author: Subham

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