The United States Justice Department is ramping up its antitrust investigation into Apple, according to a new report on Wednesday. The investigation first started in 2019, with regulators focused on whether Apple the company’s App Store and iOS rules are anti-competitive and stifle competitors.
Today’s report comes from The Wall Street Journal and says that the Justice Department has “ramped up work in recent months on drafting a potential antitrust complaint against Apple.”
It continues on to say that the investigation itself has “escalated” inside the DOJ. Higher-ups have assigned more litigators to the case and increased requests for documents and consultations with other companies.
The probe is reaching the point to where the team is looking for ways to involve Jonathan Kanter, the head of the DOJ’s antitrust division. As previous reports have said, Kanter represented opponents of Apple, including Spotify, Tile, Match, and Basecamp, prior to joining the DOJ.
The scope of the investigation is broad, focused not only on whether Apple’s App Store violates antitrust rules but also on how iOS itself may stifle competition from outside developers:
The Justice Department’s investigation deals in part with Apple’s policies governing mobile third-party software on its devices, which has been the focus of much of the criticism targeting Apple’s competitive practices. The department is also looking at whether Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS, operates in an anticompetitive way by favoring its own products over those of outside developers, the people said.
This is only the latest report to highlight the growing team working on the DOJ’s antitrust probe into Apple. A report last August suggested that the DOJ was aiming to file a lawsuit against Apple by the end of 2022. While the regulators ultimately missed that deadline, today’s report makes it clear that Apple isn’t off the hook.
Apple, of course, is also battling antitrust complaints and legislation in a number of different countries around the world. One of the most notable instances of this is in the European Union, where the Digital Markets Act is forcing Apple to make major changes to iOS and the App Store both.
There are still no details on when exactly the Justice Department might file its official antitrust complaint against Apple. Once that happens, it will be a long and drawn-out battle between Apple and regulators.
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