The North Dakota Senate recently introduced a bill that could prevent Apple and Google from demanding third-party developers to use their platforms to distribute apps. This would provide alternative app store options for users.
The bill is intended to “level the playing field” for app developers in North Dakota and to protect customers from “devastating, monopolistic fees imposed by big tech companies.” A representative for the Cupertino tech giant who testified during a hearing on the bill said it “threatens to destroy the iPhone as you know it.”
North Dakota Senate introduces a bill that will force Apple to enable alternative app payment options
North Dakota Senate Bill 2333 was introduced on February 10th. Here’s what Apple’s Chief Privacy Engineer Erik Neuenschwander had to say on the topic of the controversial changes proposed by the bill:
The bill threatens to destroy the iPhone as you know it by forcing measures that would undermine the privacy, securty, safety, and performance that is built into iPhone by design. Apple works hard to keep the bad apps out of the App Store and the bill could require then to let them in.
The bill was presented by Senator Kyle Davison, who said that it would restrict Apple from requiring a developer to use a digital application distribution platform as the exclusive mode of distributing a digital product. Additionally, it would prevent the company from requiring developers to use in-app purchases as the exclusive mode of accepting payment from a user.
The bill also stops Apple from retaliating against developers who choose alternate distribution and payment methods. Even though the bill is still being considered, it already has several committed advocates like Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney and Basecamp co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson.
“I alone can protect you and make decisions for you” is the timeless sales pitch for tyranny. Americans have always known better than to accept it as a governing principle. Now the pitch is being made frantically by tech corporations who surely know better. https://t.co/s36hJkjdS2
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) February 11, 2021
Currently, there are no alternate app store options available for users on iOS. Apple also does not allows apps to be installed on iOS devices if they are not available on its App Store. The Cupertino tech giant reviews every app that is submitted by a developer, a practice that would not happen with a third-party app store option.
Apple’s policy of not letting app developers accept payments through methods other than in-app purchases except in specific situations led to a legal fight against Epic Games.
Last year, Apple faced a U.S. antitrust inquiry into its App Store policies and fees, which concluded in a 450-page report calling for new antitrust laws focused on restoring vigorous oversight, strengthening laws related to mergers, and new antitrust laws focused on promoting fair competition in digital markets.
In regards to the bill, the North Dakota Senate committee has not yet introduced federal legislation, and Senator Jerry Klien stated that “there is still some mulling to be done” with the bill.