Tim Cook says new EU tech law not in ‘best interest of the user’

17 Jun 2021

Image: © Nikolay N. Antonov/Stock.adobe.com

The Apple boss said the Digital Markets Act would allow users to download apps outside of the App Store, which could put their devices at risk.

Tim Cook took aim at the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), calling it a threat to the iPhone’s security.

The Apple chief executive said that parts of the tough new law currently being hammered out in Brussels would not be in the “best interest of the user”. The DMA seeks to add greater controls around competition and antitrust rules in Europe and would target large tech companies including Apple.

Speaking virtually at the VivaTech conference yesterday (16 June), Cook took issue with provisions in the DMA that could force Apple to open up the App Store and to allow users to download iPhone apps outside of this store.

“If you take an example of where I don’t think it’s in the best interest, that the current DMA language that is being discussed would force sideloading on the iPhone,” Cook said. “This would be an alternate way of getting apps onto the iPhone, as we look at that, that would destroy the security of the iPhone.”

Loosening Apple’s grip on what apps can be downloaded to an iOS device would put users at risk of malware, he added.

“Look at malware as an example, and Android has 47 times more malware than iOS. Why is that? It’s because we’ve designed iOS in such a way that there’s one App Store and all of the apps are reviewed prior to going on the store.”

Apple has made privacy its calling card in separating itself from its competition, as evidenced lately by the updates announced at its recent Worldwide Developer Conference.

Apple has staunchly defended its right to control the App Store. It is currently in a legal battle with Fortnite maker Epic Games over the terms of using the App Store. Meanwhile in Europe, antirust officials have been probing Apple’s practices.

Under the DMA, European investigators would likely have an expanded scope to investigate, and potentially penalise, companies like Apple.

Cook added during his talk that Apple would engage with EU lawmakers on the DMA and went on to praise the GDPR legislation, calling it the standard for privacy laws globally.

Details of the Digital Markets Act were unveiled last year by the European Commission alongside the Digital Services Act. The two sets of regulations are intended to reel in the market dominance of large tech companies and ensure they follow rules on content moderation and policing illegal content.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin