A new report from The Information today indicates that Apple is “very likely” to face an antitrust lawsuit from the Department of Justice in the United States. The report explains that the US DOJ has “accelerated” the antitrust probe into Apple, which it first opened back in 2019.
Citing people familiar with the matter, the report says that there has been a “flurry of activity on the investigation” since the summer. This includes a new round of subpoenas being sent to Apple’s business partners, additional DOJ staff being assigned to the probe, and more.
The investigation thus far has revealed what DOJ lawyers believe are “serious issues.”
The investigation is very likely to lead to a lawsuit, though the specifics are still in flux, one of the people said. The DOJ has also assigned more staff to the probe, that person said. In late July two insurance companies abandoned their merger following a DOJ lawsuit, and some of the lawyers on that case moved to the Apple probe, the person said. DOJ lawyers are uncovering what they believe are serious issues and the investigation remains ongoing, the person said.
The DOJ probe is said to focus on a wide array of issues, with the broad focus being on Apple’s power as a technology market leader. Specific concerns raised in the report include App Tracking Transparency, Sign in with Apple, and the App Store. The DOJ is also looking into “complaints about how Apple places restrictions on location tracking that its own apps don’t have to follow.”
Finally, the report points out that Jonathan Kanter, the incoming head of the DOJ’s antitrust division, has previously represented opponents of Apple, including Spotify, Tile, Match, and Basecamp. It’s unclear how this could affect the Apple probe, but the report outlines:
In private practice Kanter represented opponents of Apple including Match, Tile, Spotify and Basecamp, according to a recent financial disclosure, which did not specify whether he represented those companies in the DOJ’s Apple investigation. It’s possible Kanter might not be in the office until December. However, the person with knowledge of the probe said that the timing of a case against Apple will not hinge on when Kanter starts. Furthermore, the person said it remains unclear whether Kanter’s work in private practice will require his recusal from the Apple investigation.
The full report from The Information is well worth a read and can be found here.