Apple Fights Hard Against App Store Bill

This week, politicians on Capitol Hill are debating a bill that would shake up the App Store to such a degree, that side loading of apps among other things would be allowed. All in the name of consumer choice. CNBC has the details:

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act, introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, would prohibit dominant platforms from favoring their own products over rivals.

That could have significant implications for companies like Apple and Google, which host rival apps on their app stores alongside their own, and Amazon, which sells private-label products on its marketplace alongside third-party brands.

The Open App Markets Act, introduced by Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., would similarly prevent dominant platforms from preferencing their own products, but is focused specifically on app stores.

The bill would prevent companies with dominant app stores, like Apple and Google, from conditioning distribution of an app on whether the developer uses the platform’s in-app payment system, for example.

And:

Apple has consistently argued that its control over the App Store is essential to deliver a secure and private experience to its customers. Otherwise, it argues, users could install malware and other malicious software. Android phones allow users to sideload apps, although users have to agree to several warning pop-ups in the software to do so.

In the Tuesday letter, Apple warned that allowing users to sideload apps, as the bills would enable, would be a “big loss for consumers” and said it would allow app developers to ignore Apple’s privacy policies and open the door to attacks from scammers.

“But, if Apple is forced to enable sideloading, millions of Americans will likely suffer malware attacks on their phones that would otherwise have been stopped,” Powderly wrote in the letter.

Apple argues that the bills should give the company the ability to defend its rules under the argument that they “increase consumer welfare.”

Now Apple’s arguments might be valid if they actually properly policed the App Store to keep scam apps out for example. And I cite this, this, this, and this as as examples. Maybe Apple should “walk the walk” as opposed to just “talking the talk.” But in the interest of having a different view, I got a comment from Chris Olson, CEO of The Media Trust

“Antitrust legislation may or may not benefit consumers, but any cybersecurity ramifications pale in comparison to the status quo. App guidelines have NOT protected mobile users from the biggest threats to their safety. Thanks to a complete lack of control over digital third parties, identity theft, phishing and malware attacks are rampant across all mobile platforms. Until that changes – and the app review process becomes more than a pointless formality – regulations should be the least of our concern.”

Now I will point out that most of what he is talking about is insanely common on the Android side of the fence, but having said that we are starting to see some of this on iOS. Thus I would say that maybe politicians should back off of what they are doing now, and force Apple to actually make the App Store a safer place.

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