Apple and Google Prepare to Fight Against New App Store Bill

“This legislation will tear down coercive anti-competitive walls in the app economy, giving consumers more choice and small tech startups a fighting chance,” said Blumenthal.

What the bill does

The bill covers companies that own or control a app store with at least 50 million US users, obviously targeting Apple and Google. Companies should “allow and provide users with easily accessible means” to “choose default third-party apps or app stores for categories appropriate to the app or App Store” and “install apps or apps. third-party app stores by means other than its App Store. “Apple and Google should also let users” hide or remove apps or app stores provided or preinstalled by the App Store owner or any of its business partners “.

Android allows sideloading and third-party app stores, while Apple locks down iOS more strictly, but both companies could have to change their business practices to varying degrees if the legislation becomes law. Despite the openness of Android over iOS, 36 states sued google last month, claiming it worked to “preemptively cancel” competing app stores.

The Open App Markets Act would prohibit app store operators from requiring developers to use integrated Apple and Google payment systems and from imposing conditions that block or penalize developers who offer the same app to a third party. different price elsewhere. Apple and Google would also not be allowed to prioritize their own applications in search “unreasonably”, which is defined as “the application of ranking schemes or algorithms that prioritize applications” simply because they are owned by Apple and Google or their business partners. Clearly disclosed advertising is exempt from this provision.

To assist third-party software developers, the bill states that Apple and Google must provide “access to operating system interfaces, development information, and hardware and software functionality” to developers “in a timely manner and on terms equivalent or functionally equivalent “to the terms that apply to Apple and Google or their business partners.

Violations of the bill would be considered an unfair competitive method under US law. The Federal Trade Commission, the United States Attorney General, and state attorneys general could prosecute companies for violations. Developers who are “injured because of anything prohibited in this act” could sue the companies for damages and injunction.

Security addressing

Apple and Google would likely oppose the bill on security grounds. Apple in particular has touted the benefits of safety the iOS app model which typically prevents the installation of software outside of the App Store. To address this problem, the Open App Markets Act allows companies to impose restrictions designed purely for security purposes, although this is nebulously defined.

The bill states that the actions of app store operators would not violate the proposed law if they are “necessary to ensure the privacy, security or digital security of users; taken to prevent spam or fraud; or taken to prevent a violation of, or to comply with, federal or state law. “To obtain this exemption, Apple and Google should establish” by clear and convincing evidence that the action described is being applied in a demonstrably manner consistent with the applications of the covered enterprise or its business partners and other applications; not used as a pretext to exclude or impose unnecessary or discriminatory conditions on third-party applications, in-app payment systems or in app stores; and narrowly tailored and could not be achieved by less discriminatory and technically possible means. “

Battle apps on the way

The rapid response from the Apple and Google-funded group to Wednesday’s announcement portends another battle on Capitol Hill if the bill goes ahead. In June, Apple “launched a major public relations campaign” against “calls by regulators to open the doors of alternative application stores and applications downloaded to the iPhone”, as we written at the time. CEO Tim Cook said sideloading is “not in the user’s best interest,” while another Apple executive claimed “sideloading in this case actually eliminates the choice.” and described sideloading as the equivalent of installing apps from “an alley or dark side of the road.”

When the 36 states filed their antitrust complaint against Google last month, Google called the complaint unfounded and said it was “strange that a group of attorneys general chose to file a complaint against a system that offers more. openness and choice than others “. Meanwhile, a “Coalition for Application Fairness”, with members such as Spotify, Epic Games, Match Group, Basecamp, ProtonMail and Deezer, is adhering to the Open App Markets Act.

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