The EU is preparing to introduce new rules that could limit Apple-imposed rules on alternative web browsers for iOS, a new leak suggests.
Although the European Union unveiled the Digital Services Act – the latest attempt to regulate the provision of online services – earlier this month, the final text of the bill has yet to be made public.
However, based on an early leaked draft seen by MacRumors and The register, EU regulators have Apple in their sights, in addition to players like Google and Meta.
Specifically, the EU plans to force Apple to allow third parties to bypass WebKit, the default engine for all browsers on the iOS platform.
“Article 5, point (e) has been extended to cover cases where the access controller requires professional users to offer or interact with a web browser engine,” lawyer Damien Geradin wrote in an article by blog.
“This is most likely to address Apple’s policy requiring all browsers running on iOS to use Apple’s WebKit browser engine – a policy the UK CMA recently discovered may have restricted web application development, among others.”
no one is safe
Alongside the Digital Markets Act, the EU plans to enforce fairly strict laws on digital services and platforms with the DSA, including content moderation, algorithmic transparency, misinformation, and more.
While the DMA clearly covers Apple, the DSA focuses on those who provide online services, which is not traditionally associated with enterprise (beyond cloud storage).
However, the EU decision has the potential to upend how browsers work on iOS, according to web legend Alex Russell, who has worked on Chrome and Edge.
“The potential for a capable web has been pretty much extinguished on mobile because Apple has successfully prevented it so far,” Russell told The Register. “Companies and services will be able to avoid building ‘apps’ entirely when enough users have capable browsers.”
Whether the proposals will succeed remains to be seen – you can imagine how fiercely Apple will fight these rules, given its longstanding opposition to any changes to its App Store fees.
But it’s certainly interesting that the EU casts its net wide enough to impact the tech monolith and weaken its position in another area of iOS.