Russia fines Apple $16m for 'abusing' dominant position


MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia has imposed a US$12.1 million (S$16 million) fine on Apple for “abusing” its dominant position in the market by giving preference to its own applications, a government regulator said on Tuesday (April 27).

“Apple was found to have abused its dominant position in the iOS distribution market through a series of sequential actions which resulted in a competitive advantage for its own products,” the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service said in a statement.

It said that it had hit the company with a fine of more than 906 million rubles (S$16 million) after ruling in favour of a complaint brought against the US tech giant by cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab.

Apple is appealing the ruling and on Tuesday told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency that it “respects the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service of Russia, but does not agree with the decision”.

The fine comes after a new law went into effect in Russia earlier this month, demanding that smartphones, tablets and computers sold in the country come with pre-installed domestic software and apps.

Dubbed the “anti-Apple” law, the controversial Bill was introduced in an effort to promote Russia’s tech companies, but critics say it is the latest attempt to tighten state control over the internet.

It requires all devices with internet access sold in the country – whether they are produced locally or abroad – to be equipped with approved software produced by Russian companies or face fines starting in July.

The list includes programmes made by Kaspersky.

Apple reportedly voiced strong opposition to the legislation and threatened to pull out of the Russian market, but eventually agreed to comply.

Russia routinely fines Western tech companies such as Apple, Google and Facebook, and in recent years it has been tightening control over the internet under the pretext of fighting extremism and protecting minors.

In 2019, it passed a law on the development of “sovereign internet” aimed at isolating the country’s internet from the worldwide web, a move activists say will stifle free speech.