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
10 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
10 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
10 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
10 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
10 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
10 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

app store blue banner

Apple Says iOS is Safer Than Android Because Sideloading Apps Isn't Allowed

Wednesday October 13, 2021 5:00 am PDT by
In response to the European Commission's proposed Digital Markets Act, which could force sideloading of apps on the iPhone in Europe, Apple has shared an in-depth document highlighting the security and privacy risks of sideloading. Sideloading refers to installing apps outside of the App Store, such as from a website or a third-party app store. Apple's document, titled Building a Trusted...
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's In-App Purchase Rules Are Anti-Competitive, Rules Dutch Antitrust Watchdog

Thursday October 7, 2021 1:41 pm PDT by
Apple's in-app purchase requirements are anti-competitive, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has decided, reports Reuters. The ACM has ordered Apple to make changes to the rules that force developers to use in-app payment options. The Dutch antitrust watchdog has been investigating Apple since 2019, and while the probe started out as a look into whether Apple's App...
play store google

Google Criticizes EU Regulators for Ignoring Apple in Bid to Get $5.1 Billion Antitrust Fine Annulled

Monday September 27, 2021 1:32 pm PDT by
Google today lambasted European Union regulators for ignoring Apple and the rivalry between Apple and Android in the antitrust accusations that have been levied against Google, reports Reuters. Apple was brought up as part of Google's attempt to get a massive 4.34 billion euro ($5.1 billion) fine annulled. The European Commission first levied the fine against Google in 2018 because Google...
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

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 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 ...
microsoft epic games

Windows Microsoft Store Adds Support for Alternate App Stores Like Epic Games

Tuesday September 28, 2021 9:38 am PDT by
Microsoft today announced that it is opening up the Microsoft Store for Windows to third-party storefront apps, including the Epic Games Store and the Amazon Appstore. Epic and Amazon's stores will be discoverable on the Microsoft Store for Windows and can be downloaded like any other app. As a reason for the change, Microsoft said that it wants to ensure that its "business terms are fair"...