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Biden Admin Sues Apple Amid Antitrust Crackdown

Photo by Sumudu Mohottige / Unsplash

By Will Kessler, The Daily Caller News Foundation | March 21, 2024

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and a group of state attorneys general filed an antitrust suit against tech giant Apple on Thursday, alleging the company holds an illegal monopoly on the phone market.

The suit alleges that Apple, through its line-up of phones, computers, watches and more, locked consumers into using Apple phones by being uncooperative with other services instead of lowering prices, forming a monopoly on the industry. The Biden administration, through the DOJ and the Federal Trade Commission, has launched a number of antitrust suits, particularly against large tech companies including Google and Microsoft.

“Rather than respond to competitive threats by offering lower smartphone prices to consumers or better monetization for developers, Apple would meet competitive threats by imposing a series of shapeshifting rules and restrictions in its App Store guidelines and developer agreements that would allow Apple to extract higher fees, thwart innovation, offer a less secure or degraded user experience, and throttle competitive alternatives,” the suit alleges.

The DOJ warned that if action was not taken now to stop Apple’s alleged monopoly, it would expand into the automotive, entertainment and financial services sectors, including using exclusionary means to help entrench the iPhone’s dominance, according to the suit.

The claims of anticompetitive behavior include Apple allegedly blocking innovative apps that would facilitate the switch between competing smartphone platforms, suppressing streaming services that do not require expensive hardware and excluding cross-platform messaging to reinforce iPhone dominance, according to a press release from the DOJ.

“This lawsuit threatens who we are and the principles that set Apple products apart in fiercely competitive markets,” Apple said in response to the suit, according to NBC News. “If successful, it would hinder our ability to create the kind of technology people expect from Apple —where hardware, software, and services intersect. It would also set a dangerous precedent, empowering government to take a heavy hand in designing people’s technology. We believe this lawsuit is wrong on the facts and the law, and we will vigorously defend against it.”

Apple previously reached a $100 million settlement in 2021 in response to an antitrust suit with app developers that alleged that the company was using restrictions on its app store to stop developers from directly communicating with customers.

Google has also been targeted by the DOJ over claims that the company holds a monopoly over the search and advertising markets. Last year, the FTC failed to stop a $68.7 billion acquisition by Microsoft of the video game company Activision after claiming that the merger would lead to too much control over the gaming industry.

“This case is about freeing smartphone markets from Apple’s anticompetitive and exclusionary conduct and restoring competition to lower smartphone prices for consumers, reducing fees for developers, and preserving innovation for the future,” the suit states.

The DOJ and Apple did not immediately respond to a request to comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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