DOJ recommends removing antitrust monitor from Apple

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The Department of Justice is recommending that a federal judge dismiss the external compliance monitor (ECM) at Apple who was appointed after the company was found to have conspired on e-book prices.

A letter filed with the court said that although, during his two-year appointment, “the Monitor faced a challenging relationship with Apple, that did not prevent him from fulfilling the fundamental purpose of the Monitorship: ensuring that Apple implemented a significantly strengthened antitrust compliance program.”

{mosads}“Plaintiffs’ decision not to recommend that the Monitor’s term be extended was not an easy one,” the Justice Department wrote in the letter. “Apple never embraced a cooperative working relationship with the Monitor.”

In its own statement submitted to the court, Apple said it had acted in accordance with its rights under the law.

“Apple asserted its rights in good faith, and, whatever the nature of the past skirmishes between Apple and the ECM, these disagreements do not diminish the fact that Apple, in collaboration with the ECM, has met the Court’s challenge to create a world-class antitrust compliance program that will serve as a model for other companies,” its representative wrote.

“Apple will continue to comply with all of its obligations under the Final Judgment, including those that pertain to the [antitrust compliance monitor], as it builds on the strong foundation of the Antitrust Compliance Program put in place over the past two years.”

The monitor, Michael Bromwich, was responsible for producing regular reports on Apple’s antitrust rules compliance program. Though he has documented his concerns about transparency at the company, he said recently that the program was “substantially stronger than it was when the monitorship began.”

Bromwich, who previously served as President Obama’s regulator on offshore drilling, was asked to monitor the company after Apple was found to have conspired to raise the price of e-books with different publishing houses in 2013. He was tasked with assessing their policies and determining whether their training on antitrust rules was sufficient.

Apple continues to face antitrust questions in other parts of its business. It’s new music service is said to be under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission for its treatment of competing services like Spotify. It also faces state-level probes.

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