Apple could be fined billions under strict new UK rules

App Store Iphone 13 Pro
(Image credit: Future)

Apple could find itself on the receiving end of some hefty fines if it doesn't comply with new rules planned to come into force in the U.K.

The rules will be part of the government's Digital Markets, Competition, and Consumer Bill which would require big tech companies to do a better job of helping consumers make informed decisions. Those decisions will specifically relate to purchases based on reviews as well as recurring subscriptions.

The bill itself has been in the works since 2021 and will also put Google and Amazon squarely in the sights of UK lawmakers, while Apple will need to be wary of how it runs the App Store specifically.

Fake reviews and subscription traps

The new laws will be wide-ranging, the BBC writes, but they will likely apply to Apple and the App Store in specific ways.

The first relates to fake reviews. Companies will have to put a stop to reviews that have been paid for, either in terms of free goods or money-changing hands. That seems to be squarely aimed at Amazon, but Apple's App Store has its own fake review problem. Apple will likely have to do a better job of clamping down on apps whose developers buy fake reviews in an attempt to bolster their download numbers.

Another point that could affect Apple relates to subscriptions. The laws will seek to stop companies from offering so-called subscription traps — subscriptions that are difficult to get out of. Companies will also have to warn people when a  free trial comes to an end, too.

Apple already warns customers when a new subscription is getting ready to be renewed so it's possible it will already have this aspect of the new laws covered, but it might need to go yet further.

The App Store has long been a bone of contention for many, and even the best iPhone money can buy is still limited in how people can install apps. Opening the iPhone to third-party app stores is something the UK is also working on, while Apple is said to be ready to allow them as part of iOS 17 as well.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.