A Tying Perspective on Apple, the iPhone, and the App Store

Apple App Store Antitrust Bill OK’ed By Senate Judiciary Committee

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, February 3, approved legislation that, if passed into law, would force Apple to let users install apps from outside of the App Store, reported Axios.

If the bill passes the full Senate and makes it to President Joe Biden’s desk, Google and Apple would essentially have to give up full control of their app stores.

According to Axios, the new rules could require them both to allow app side-loading, installing apps from non-sanctioned marketplaces, and alternative payment processing systems. Apple and Google have argued vehemently against the bill.

The 21-1 vote shows there’s increasing support in Congress for the kinds of bills that aim to reel in Big Tech companies. It will still be a long haul for this bill to become law, but it’s notable that it made it out of committee so easily, garnering the support of many Republicans.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Democrat – Minnesota), a co-author of the bill along with Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Democrat – Connecticut) and Marsha Blackburn (Republican – Tennessee), dismissed tech company claims that the bill would cause privacy and security problems.

The Open App Markets Act, spearheaded by Sens. Blumenthal and Blackburn, the chair and ranking member of subcommittee on consumer protection, seeks to require dominant app stores to make it easier for developers to distribute their apps and connect with their customers.

The app store operators have opposed the bill as originally drafted, warning it could jeopardize consumer privacy and result in a worse user experience.

″This bill could destroy many consumer benefits that current payment systems provide and distort competition by exempting gaming platforms, which amounts to Congress trying to artificially pick winners and losers in a highly competitive marketplace,” Google VP of Government Affairs and Public Policy Mark Isakowitz said in a statement ahead of the markup. App Store

In a letter to Judiciary Committee leaders obtained by CNBC, Apple Senior Director of Government Affairs in the Americas Timothy Powderly wrote, “We are deeply concerned that the legislation, unless amended, would make it easier for big social media platforms to avoid the pro-consumer practices of Apple’s App Store, and allow them to continue business as usual. It does so by mandating that Apple allow the sideloading of apps and app stores that need not comply with the App Store’s pro-consumer privacy protections.”

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