Skip to main content

EU suggests phones and laptops should come without pre-installed apps in new proposed legislation

Galaxy S10+
Galaxy S10+ (Image credit: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • The EU is proposing a new Digital Services Act.
  • Draft legislation of the bill has been released.
  • It suggests businesses like Apple and Google should not be allowed to pre-install their own applications on smartphones and laptops.

A new draft of the EU's Digital Services Act states that businesses should not be enabled to pre-install their own apps on hardware such as laptops and smartphones.

As reported by the Financial Times:

The draft recommends that Big Tech might be prohibited from favoritism of their own services on their websites or platforms, to the hindrance of competitors, which business ought to not be enabled to pre-install their own applications on hardware gadgets, such as laptop computers or phones, or force other business to solely pre-install their software application.

According to Bloomberg, the new legislation, due to be unveiled in December, will also force platforms to share customer data with business rivals, and prevent them from preferencing their own services in searches:

Due to be unveiled in December by the European Commission, the bloc's executive body, the legislation will seek to modernize rules governing the internet to give platforms greater responsibility for what users post on their sites as well as propose regulation aimed at curbing the power of large platforms.

The EU says it wants to "constrain unfair behavior", and in a separate document criticized gatekeeping, suggesting platforms should not be able to provide special treatment in online searches or mediation for their own services. It also says users should not be restricted from uninstalling any of the apps on a device.

The move would, of course, be a massive blow to vendors like Apple, other smartphone makers, and indeed tablet and laptop vendors who ship pre-installed software on all of their devices as a matter of course.

Proposed laws also suggest Facebook and Google would have to submit to annual audits of their advertising metrics. Reports note these proposals are in the early stages and could look very different by the time they are finalized. They would also need the backing of member states and the European Parliament, so are likely years away from becoming reality.

Have you listened to this week's Android Central Podcast?

Android Central

Every week, the Android Central Podcast brings you the latest tech news, analysis and hot takes, with familiar co-hosts and special guests.

  • Subscribe in Pocket Casts: Audio
  • Subscribe in Spotify: Audio
  • Subscribe in iTunes: Audio (opens in new tab)
  • It's about time the giants are constrained and brought to task.
  • How about just requiring that all apps be uninstallable with the exception of a certain few deemed necessary for the phones basic function. The EU is just too heavy handed.
  • I agree with this. Pre-install anything but give us the option to get rid of it. Why force us to look at apps and have apps on our phone we will never use? It's not like having a Facebook icon on my phone is going to get me to use Facebook if I don't already.
  • The only apps that should not be allowed to be removed is of course the launcher and Google Play! There should be ZERO other uninstallable apps. The OEM's can load all the apps they want and we, the end user, should have the ability to choose whether we want to use those apps or install replacements for them!
  • Yeah just make all apps uninstallable. Telling an OEM that they can't have preinstalled their own apps is not right. They made the device so they should be able to load it up the way that they want. At the same time let users uninstall what they don't want.