South Korea has passed a bill banning forced Apple In-app purchases that are requiring developers to use the app store. The bill will go into effect in December, and if violated, Apple could be fined $25 million or more. This law is important for people who want to purchase apps that are not available on the App Store. Apps downloaded through other methods can sometimes cost less than those found on the official site. For example, an app like Minecraft costs about $5 on iTunes but only about $2 directly from Mojang’s website.
South Korea’s parliament has approved the bill, which makes it the first country ever to impose restraints on Google and Apple’s payment policies which force developers to use only their proprietary billing systems. This bill will transform into a law once signed by President Moon Jae-in, whose party is a vocal supporter.
Apple and Google’s policies usually require developers to pay the tech behemoths a commission of 30% of every transaction, which is considerably high. The bill that was approved Tuesday, means that now the developers will be able to avoid paying the high commission and can direct their users to pay using alternate platforms.
What does the law do to forced Apple In-app purchases?
It is designed to prevent app store operators, forcing payment systems on app developers and “inappropriately” delaying app reviews or blocks, as per reports of Reuters. The law provides the Government with the power to mediate payment disputes, cancellations, and refunds in the app. Nearly 180 of the attended lawmakers had voted in favor of passage of the bill made to the Telecommunications Business Act, as per Reuters report. The law was submitted to parliament last August, as per Yonhap News.
“Today’s historic actions and bold leadership by South Korea marks a monumental step in the fight towards a fair application ecosystem,” a Match spokesperson said on Tuesday. Epic Games had built its very own in-game payment system last year to get around Apple and Google’s current policies.
What do Apple and Google have to say?
An Apple spokesperson commented that this bill will be “putting users who purchase digital goods from other sources at fraudulent risk while undermining their privacy protection, making it difficult to manage purchases and features like ‘Ask to Buy’ as well as Parental Controls might prove to be less effective.” They also added that the user’s trust in App Store purchases might likely go down as a result of this bill.
A Google spokesperson commented that its service fee “helps keep Android free, gives developers the tools and global platform to reach access billions of consumers.” “We’ll reflect on how to comply with this law while maintaining a model that supports a high-quality operating system and we will share more in the coming weeks,” added the Google speaker.
Google said that it was planning on enforcing a policy that requires the developers who distribute software on the Play Store to use its proprietary in-app payment system. Which would mean other payment alternatives will be out of limits. This move was met with a lot of criticism by developers and regulators who scrutinized Google and Apple’s reins over the smartphone OS and the price they charge programmers who develop apps for the platforms.
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