Japan Passes Law Mandating Open Access for App Stores and Payments on Apple and Google Devices

A major regulation passed by the Japanese government requires Apple and Google to grant access to third-party app stores and payment processors on mobile devices that are powered by their mobile operating systems. On June 12, 2024, the upper house of Japan enacted the Act on Promotion of Competition for Specified Smartphone Software, with the intention of breaking Apple and Google's present oligopoly domination in the smartphone sector. Once the law receives Cabinet approval, it will require these tech giants to comply with permitting third-party app stores, enabling third-party billing services for application developers, and allowing users to adjust default settings easily.

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The law forbids the two from giving their own services preferential treatment in search results without a good justification, including using rival application data for their own gain and denying developers access to OS-controlled features. This move is seen as a direct challenge, particularly aimed at Apple, to open up its NFC chip for payment purposes, aligning with international trends in digital market regulation like the EU's Digital Markets Act and similar initiatives in the UK and the US. The law's implementation will involve consultations on security, privacy, and child protection, ensuring a balanced approach to competition.

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