Apple’s App Store Draws E.U. Antitrust Charge

“They want all the benefits of the App Store but don’t think they should have to pay anything for that,” Apple said in a statement. “The commission’s argument on Spotify’s behalf is the opposite of fair competition.”

Criticism of the App Store is part of a broader debate over tech industry power, where a small number of companies like Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon have government-like authority to set policies over major parts of the digital economy. It determines how people find information and entertainment, communicate and shop.

This week, Apple flexed its power by introducing a software update that gave customers more power to block data tracking by apps, a change that has sparked a rivalry with Facebook, which has criticized the move as anticompetitive because it will harm the ability to sell online advertising.

Companies are increasingly pushing regulators and courts to intervene. At a congressional hearing in Washington last week, companies including Spotify, Tile and Match Group told senators how policies by Apple and Google, whose Play Store is another pinch point for app developers, hurt competition and resulted in higher app prices for customers. And next week, a trial is scheduled to begin in California between Apple and Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite that has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple over its fees.

Britain is conducting another antitrust investigation of Apple over the App Store after receiving complaints from developers.

The case announced on Friday is part of a broader effort by the European Union to clamp down on so-called gatekeeper companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google. Policymakers are drafting laws that would prevent the tech giants from abusing their market power to harm smaller companies, including how they manage app stores.

Efforts to force changes to the App Store pose a threat to a fast-growing piece of Apple’s business. As sales of iPhones, iPads and other hardware devices mature, the company is counting on digital services as a fresh source of growth. Optimism among investors about that business has helped send Apple’s stock soaring, giving it a market value of more than $2.2 trillion, the largest in the world.

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Europe Proposes Strict Rules for Artificial Intelligence

The European Union unveiled strict regulations on Wednesday to govern the use of artificial intelligence, a first-of-its-kind policy that outlines how companies and governments can use a technology seen as one of the most significant, but ethically fraught, scientific breakthroughs in recent memory.

The draft rules would set limits around the use of artificial intelligence in a range of activities, from self-driving cars to hiring decisions, bank lending, school enrollment selections and the scoring of exams. It would also cover the use of artificial intelligence by law enforcement and court systems — areas considered “high risk” because they could threaten people’s safety or fundamental rights.

Some uses would be banned altogether, including live facial recognition in public spaces, though there would be several exemptions for national security and other purposes.

The 108-page policy is an attempt to regulate an emerging technology before it becomes mainstream. The rules have far-reaching implications for major technology companies including Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft that have poured resources into developing artificial intelligence, but also scores of other companies that use the software to develop medicine, underwrite insurance policies, and judge credit worthiness. Governments have used versions of the technology in criminal justice and allocating public services like income support.

“deepfakes” would have to make clear to users that what they are seeing is computer generated.

For the past decade, the European Union has been the world’s most aggressive watchdog of the technology industry, with its policies often used as blueprints by other nations. The bloc has already enacted the world’s most far-reaching data-privacy regulations, and is debating additional antitrust and content-moderation laws.

governments around the world, each with their own political and policy motivations, to crimp the industry’s power.

In the United States, President Biden has filled his administration with industry critics. Britain is creating a tech regulator to police the industry. India is tightening oversight of social media. China has taken aim at domestic tech giants like Alibaba and Tencent.

The outcomes in the coming years could reshape how the global internet works and how new technologies are used, with people having access to different content, digital services or online freedoms based on where they are located.

Artificial intelligence — where machines are trained to perform jobs and make decisions on their own by studying huge volumes of data — is seen by technologists, business leaders and government officials as one of the world’s most transformative technologies, promising major gains in productivity.

But as the systems become more sophisticated it can be harder to understand why the software is making a decision, a problem that could get worse as computers become more powerful. Researchers have raised ethical questions about its use, suggesting that it could perpetuate existing biases in society, invade privacy, or result in more jobs being automated.

Release of the draft law by the European Commission, the bloc’s executive body, drew a mixed reaction. Many industry groups expressed relief the regulations were not more stringent, while civil society groups said they should have gone further.

“There has been a lot of discussion over the last few years about what it would mean to regulate A.I., and the fallback option to date has been to do nothing and wait and see what happens,” said Carly Kind, director of the Ada Lovelace Institute in London, which studies the ethical use of artificial intelligence. “This is the first time any country or regional bloc has tried.”

ethical uses of the software said she was fired for criticizing the company’s lack of diversity and the biases built into modern artificial intelligence software. Debates have raged inside Google and other companies about selling the cutting-edge software to governments for military use.

In the United States, the risks of artificial intelligence are also being considered by government authorities.

This week, the Federal Trade Commission warned against the sale of artificial intelligence systems that use racially biased algorithms, or ones that could “deny people employment, housing, credit, insurance, or other benefits.”

Elsewhere, in Massachusetts, and in cities like Oakland, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; and San Francisco, governments have taken steps to restrict police use of facial recognition.

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