U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have introduced legislation Wednesday (Aug. 11) that would set rules governing app stores and allow developers to use third-party payments services and stores.
The bill, if signed into law, would establish the Open Markets App Act, which will be used to fight monopoly-like structures imposed by Big Tech, according to a press release. Google and Apple have come under fire for the rules developers must follow to sell apps in their app stores. The act would set enforceable rules protecting competition and strengthening consumer protections.
“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.”
However, the Chamber of Progress, which defines itself as a “center-left tech industry organization,” said the bill would “erode the security, trust, and convenience that consumers value in app stores and mobile devices.”
“This bill is a finger in the eye of anyone who bought an iPhone or Android because the phones and their app stores are safe, reliable, and easy to use,” said Chamber of Progress CEO Adam Kovacevich in a statement. “I don’t see any consumers marching in Washington demanding that Congress make their smartphones dumber. And Congress has better things to do than intervene in a multi-million dollar dispute between businesses.”
The organization has noted that the legislation also seems to take the side of companies engaged in legal battles with Apple or Google, including Epic Games, Spotify and Tile.
In 2020, Epic Games said Apple’s removal of its popular Fortnite game over Epic’s implementation of an alternative payment system was “yet another example of Apple flexing its enormous power in order to impose unreasonable restraints and unlawfully maintain its 100 percent monopoly over the iOS In-App Payment Processing Market.”