New U.S. Antitrust Bill Would Require Apple and Google to Allow Third-Party App Stores and Sideloading

New bipartisan antitrust legislation that targets Apple's App Store and Google's Play Store was today introduced by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal, Marsha Blackburn, and Amy Klobuchar.

app store blue banner
The Open App Markets Act [PDF] is meant to create "fair, clear, and enforceable rules" that will protect competition and strengthen consumer protections. According to the three senators, Apple and Google have "gatekeeper control" of the two main mobile operating systems and their app stores, allowing them to dictate the terms of the app market.

Under the terms of the bill, which applies to companies that own or control an ‌App Store‌ with more than 50,000,000 users, Apple would not be able to require developers to use its own in-app purchase system, and it would be required to allow developers to distribute apps through alternative app stores.

Apple would need to provide "readily accessible means" for iPhone users to install third-party apps or app stores outside of Apple's own ‌App Store‌, and it would need to let customers choose third-party apps and app stores as their defaults while also hiding standard Apple apps.

Other wording in the bill would prevent Apple from retaliating against developers that decided to distribute apps using alternative means, and Apple would also not be allowed to unreasonably preference its own apps. The company would need to provide developers with access to operating system interfaces, development information, and hardware and software features.

In a statement, Blumenthal said that the legislation would break the competitive hold that Apple and Google have over the app market while providing mobile users with more control over their devices.

"This legislation will tear down coercive anticompetitive walls in the app economy, giving consumers more choices and smaller startup tech companies a fighting chance. 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."

Blackburn said that Apple and Google's refusal to allow for third-party App Stores is a "direct affront to a free and fair marketplace, and Klobuchar said that the legislation levels the playing field and will ensure an "innovative and competitive marketplace."

In an interview with Reuters, Blumenthal said that he found the "predatory abuse" of the two companies "deeply offensive on so many levels." He said that he expects companion legislation in the House of Representatives "very soon."

Earlier this year, U.S. lawmakers introduced sweeping antitrust legislation that would result in major changes to the tech industry if passed, with the measures coming as the culmination of a 16-month antitrust investigation.

Update: In a statement to MacRumors, Apple reiterated its commitment to ensuring that apps are delivered to customers in a way that is safe and trustworthy.

"Since our founding, we’ve always put our users at the center of everything we do, and the App Store is the cornerstone of our work to connect developers and customers in a way that is safe and trustworthy. The result has been an unprecedented engine of economic growth and innovation, one that now supports more than 2.1 million jobs across all 50 states. At Apple, our focus is on maintaining an App Store where people can have confidence that every app must meet our rigorous guidelines and their privacy and security is protected."

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

dominiongamma Avatar
6 weeks ago

Yay! Give the consumers what they deserve! It really is a win/win for everyone. It’s time developers get paid real money.
I like iOS secured and the way it is, no thank you
Score: 78 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AvisDeene Avatar
6 weeks ago
Will the government next force Walmart to allow Target to advertise their own products and install their own cash registers in Walmart stores?
Score: 74 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Amazing Iceman Avatar
6 weeks ago

This is great. If you don’t wanna install from a third party App Store or don’t wanna sideload, then just don’t do it.
Pirates rejoice!

It's not a winning situation for Apple Developers. The Torrent sites will be loaded with apps that can be installed without having to jailbreak your device.

If you let politicians control Technology, we will have total chaos.
Score: 64 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Amazing Iceman Avatar
6 weeks ago
If this is the case, then the same should apply to Game Consoles: Playstation, Nintendo, Xbox, etc...
We want to sideload to the consoles as well.
Also, I want to be able to install 3rd Party apps on my Mazda.
Score: 51 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Amazing Iceman Avatar
6 weeks ago

Yay! Give the consumers what they deserve! It really is a win/win for everyone. It’s time developers get paid real money.
Developers won't get pay anything. Users will be able to side load their apps or get them from the Torrents, and install them without having to Jailbreak their devices.
Score: 42 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zorinlynx Avatar
6 weeks ago

I like iOS secured and the way it is, no thank you
Then don't use third party app stores.
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

General App Store South Korea Feature Feature

South Korea Passes Bill Banning Apple From Requiring Developers to Use App Store In-App Purchase System

Tuesday August 31, 2021 3:12 am PDT by
South Korea today passed a bill that bans Apple and Google from requiring developers to use their own respective in-app purchasing systems, allowing developers to charge users using third-party payment methods, The Wall Street Journal reports. The bill was originally supposed to be voted on yesterday, however, more urgent matters presented to South Korea's National Assembly meant the bill...
app store blue banner

South Korea Could Ban Apple From Requiring Developers to Use In-App Purchase System

Tuesday August 24, 2021 10:31 am PDT by
South Korea may soon ban Apple and Google from requiring app developers to use their in-app purchase systems, reports Reuters. South Korea's legislation and judiciary committee is expected to approve an "Anti-Google Law" that amends the existing Telecommunications Business Act. It will require Apple and Google to allow third-party payment methods in their app stores in South Korea, and it...
Mac App Store General Feature

South Korea Delays Bill That Would Ban Apple From Requiring Developers to Use In-App Purchase System

Monday August 30, 2021 7:07 am PDT by
South Korea has delayed voting on a bill that would ban Apple and Google from requiring developers to use their in-app purchasing systems, a move that would open the door to allowing third-party payment methods, representing a possible significant threat to Apple and Google's app marketplace business models. The bill, coming in the form of an amendment to the existing Telecommunications...
app store blue banner

Apple Letting 'Reader' Apps Offer Links for Account Sign Ups Outside of the App Store to Close Japan Investigation

Wednesday September 1, 2021 5:09 pm PDT by
Apple today announced that the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) has agreed to close its App Store investigation in exchange for changes to how "reader" apps like Netflix operate. Reader apps allow users to browse previously purchased content or content subscriptions for digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video. Going forward, developers that create "reader" apps will...
app store blue banner

EU Competition Chief Tells Apple Not to Use Privacy as a Shield Against Competition

Friday July 2, 2021 10:13 am PDT by
In ongoing antitrust discussions about App Store competition, Apple has maintained that allowing users to install apps outside of the App Store would have dire privacy consequences, but European Union digital competition chief Margrethe Vestager said today that Apple must not use privacy excuses to limit competition. In an interview with Reuters, Vestager said that privacy and security are...
app store blue banner uk fixed

Apple Could Be Forced to Follow New Digital Competition Rules or Face Fines, Under UK Proposal

Tuesday July 20, 2021 1:25 am PDT by
The U.K. government is today unveiling its plan to regulate tech giants, such as Apple, to ensure that the U.K's digital market, which includes platforms such as the App Store, is open for competition, and not dominated by any particular company. In April, the U.K. created the DMU or Digital Markets Unit under the Competition and Markets Authority. With newly given powers, that new unit will ...
app store blue banner

Developers Complain as App Store Feature Promotes Rip-Off Apps

Thursday August 5, 2021 6:12 am PDT by
Apple has featured a number of apps with disproportionately expensive subscriptions on the App Store, arousing the ire of some developers. The App Store feature on the Australian App Store, first highlighted by Beau Nouvelle on Twitter, is called "Slime relaxations" and reportedly features apps that are non-functional and seek to charge disproportionately costly in-app purchase...
app store blue banner

Apple Pays $100 Million to Settle Developer Lawsuit and Agrees to Multiple App Store Changes

Thursday August 26, 2021 5:08 pm PDT by
Apple today announced plans to make several changes to the App Store in order to settle a class-action lawsuit that was brought against Apple by developers in the United States. Under the terms of the deal, Apple will let developers use communication methods like email to tell customers about payment methods available outside of iOS apps, and it will expand the price points that developers...
app store vs developers

Apple's Planned App Store Changes Will Barely Affect the Company's Bottom Line, Says Analyst

Wednesday September 8, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
As a result of legal and regulatory pressures, Apple recently announced some upcoming changes to its App Store policies, such as letting developers email customers about payment options available outside of their iOS app and allowing "reader" apps like Spotify and Netflix to include an in-app link to their website for account signup. Apple said the changes "will help make the App Store an...
appstore

Australian Watchdog Wants iOS Users to Have More Control Over Preinstalled Apps

Wednesday April 28, 2021 2:04 am PDT by
In an report related to its ongoing investigation into Apple and Google app marketplace dominance, Australia's consumer watchdog has warned both companies that it wants consumers to have more choice when it comes to preinstalled apps on Apple and Android devices (via ZDNet). Specifically, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) wants Apple and Google to give users more...