Apple (AAPL) has been accused of breaking EU antitrust law, according to European authorities, who say that the company’s app store laws unfairly limit rival music services.
Apple is breaking competition law, according to Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s top antitrust official, because it charges app developers high commission fees and prohibits them from informing consumers about cheaper alternatives.
“Our preliminary conclusion is that Apple abused its dominant position for the distribution of music streaming apps through its app store, and distorted competition in the music streaming markets,” she told reporters during a press conference.
Following a lawsuit from music and podcasting giant Spotify, the European Commission opened an inquiry into Apple in June (SPOT).
In a statement released Friday, the Commission expressed its opposition to streaming services being forced to use Apple’s in-app purchasing scheme. It’s also “concerned” about Apple’s “restrictions on app developers,” which forbid them from educating iPhone and iPad users about alternative purchase choices.
In a Twitter message, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek praised the Commission, saying that “fairness is the secret to competition.”
“We are one step closer to creating a level playing field, which is so important for the entire ecosystem of European developers,” he added.
The allegations are the latest in a series of high-profile fights between the European Union and Big Tech firms that have culminated in hefty fines. If found in breach of antitrust laws, Apple could face a fine of up to 10% of its annual revenue.
The “Commission’s argument on Spotify’s behalf is the polar opposite of fair competition,” Apple said in a statement on Friday.
“At the core of this case is Spotify’s demand they should be able to advertise alternative deals on their iOS app, a practice that no store in the world allows. Once again, they want all the benefits of the App Store but don’t think they should have to pay anything for that,” it added.
Apple will now have the opportunity to submit a written response to the Commission and request a hearing. The European Union normally takes years to investigate and resolve an antitrust case.
Europe has taken on the role of Big Tech cop, imposing its laws and slapping massive fines on the industry’s biggest American players.
Last year, the European Union filed formal antitrust charges against Amazon (AMZN) for violating its online shopping monopoly. Antitrust lawsuits and fines have also been levied against Google (GOOGL).
Apple secured an appeal last year against the European Commission’s landmark 2016 decision that it owed Ireland €13 billion ($14.9 billion) in taxes.
The Commission had not proved that the corporation had obtained illicit state assistance from Ireland through advantageous tax arrangements, according to the European Union’s second highest court. Vestager has filed an appeal against the ruling.