A new bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate would drastically alter how Apple and Google operate their app stores.
Apple and Google have come under fire for the App Store and Play Store respectively, with developers increasingly resentful of the fees the companies charge. Further exacerbating the issue is the companies’ insistence on developers and their customers only using the built-in payment systems, an issue at the heart of the case Epic has brought against both Apple and Google.
Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) hope to address the issues with their Open App Markets Act.
The Open App Markets Act would protect developers’ rights to tell consumers about lower prices and offer competitive pricing; protect sideloading of apps; open up competitive avenues for startup apps, third party app stores, and payment services; make it possible for developers to offer new experiences that take advantage of consumer device features; give consumers more control over their devices; prevent app stores from disadvantaging developers; and set safeguards to continue to protect privacy, security, and safety of consumers.
The senators cited what they called “Big Tech bullying” and a desire to help open up the app economy.
“This legislation will tear down coercive anticompetitive walls in the app economy, giving consumers more choices and smaller startup tech companies a fighting chance,” said Blumenthal. “For years, Apple and Google have squashed competitors and kept consumers in the dark—pocketing hefty windfalls while acting as supposedly benevolent gatekeepers of this multi-billion dollar market. I’m proud to partner with Senators Blackburn and Klobuchar in this breakthrough blow against Big Tech bullying. This bipartisan bill will help break these tech giants’ ironclad grip, open the app economy to new competitors, and give mobile users more control over their own devices.”
It remains to be seen if the bill will have enough support to pass the Senate although, given the increasing scrutiny Big Tech is under, passage is likely.