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US congress quizzes Spotify over Apple antitrust complaints


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Things had gone a bit quiet in Spotify’s anti-competition battle with Apple: we’re still waiting for official word from the European Commission on any plans for a formal investigation into Apple’s stewardship of its App Store and devices, following Spotify’s complaint in March and Apple’s response in June.

Now attention is quickly shifting across the Atlantic, to the US, where Spotify’s complaints may have found another receptive audience: members of the US Congress. “US lawmakers have requested information from Apple critic Spotify as part of an antitrust probe,” reported Reuters, citing two sources “briefed on the investigation into allegations the iPhone maker engages in anti-competitive behaviour to support its own apps”.

For now, there isn’t much more to the story than this: the US House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee quizzing Spotify about its experience with Apple as a platform-owner, including “follow-up telephone calls” (which at least suggests Spotify’s initial thoughts were deemed worthy of exploring in more detail). Reuters also reports that Spotify’s lobbyists have also met with officials from the US Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission, encouraging action against Apple.

In the US, all this is taking place against a backdrop of wider discussion about ‘big tech’ companies including Apple, Google and Facebook. Antitrust investigations are part of that, but so is some of the rhetoric coming out of the race to become the Democratic Party’s nominee for the 2020 presidential election from candidates including Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris. Spotify will be hoping that its complaints have come at a timely moment in the US political arena.

But as in Europe, Apple will be sure to defend its position forcefully in the US: this battle will likely still be raging for some time after the 2020 presidential campaign closes.

 

Stuart Dredge

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