The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today approved the bipartisan Open App Markets Act. The bill will now head to the Senate floor for a vote. Aiming “to promote competition and reduce gatekeeper power in the app economy, increase choice, improve quality, and reduce costs for consumers,” the bill will force Apple and Google to allow sideloading (alternative app stores) on iOS and Android platforms.
According to the senators who are sponsoring the bill, Apple and Google have “gatekeeper control” over the two main operating systems on the market as well as their app stores. Therefore, it allows them to wield a significant amount of control on app market terms.
Antitrust bill approved by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee
The Open Market Act argues that Apple and Google enjoy an unfair advantage over competitors because of their ownership of iOS and Android operating systems and imposing anti-competitive policies like charging a commission for all in-app purchases which increase the price of purchases and subscriptions. The bill proposes to allow sideloading on iOS and Android so that consumers have more choices and have to pay less.
The Cupertino tech giant urged the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to reject the bill highlighting the dire importance of users’ security and privacy, liability exposure, and more. Apple’s government affairs head Tim Powderly wrote in a letter sent to the Committee earlier this week.
The company said the bill, S. 2710, would harm user security and privacy, create expansive liability exposure and legal uncertainty, and would deny consumer choice.“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,”
“Sideloading would enable bad actors to evade Apple’s privacy and security protections by distributing apps without critical privacy and security checks,” he said. “These provisions would allow malware, scams and data-exploitation to proliferate.”
However, Apple’s argument is not convincing enough. One of the legislators of the bill, Senator Blumenthal previously said that “I found this predatory abuse of Apple and Google so deeply offensive on so many levels. Their power has reached a point where they are impacting the whole economy in stifling and strangling innovation” and the new Open Market law will provide a fair chance to big and small developers to flourish, and give users more choices.
Last month, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee approved the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, another antitrust bill that aims to reduce the power of tech giants like Apple, Google, Amazon, and others to give preference to their own products and services on their platforms.