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
13 months 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
13 months 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
13 months 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
13 months 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
13 months 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
13 months 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)

Related Stories

Mac App Store General Feature

Apple Must Let Dating Apps Offer Alternative Payment Methods in App Store, Dutch Regulator Says

Friday December 24, 2021 9:10 am PST by
Apple must let dating apps like Tinder and Match offer payment methods other than Apple's in-app purchase system in the App Store in the Netherlands, or else it will face fines, the Dutch competition regulator announced today. Specifically, the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) said Apple will have to pay a penalty of five million euros per week, up to a maximum of 50 million euros,...
iOS App Store General Feature JoeBlue

Apple to Allow In-App Third-Party Payment Options for First Time in the Netherlands

Saturday January 15, 2022 12:39 am PST by
Apple has announced that it will allow third-party payment options for in-app purchases for dating apps in the Netherlands, in the first ever concession of its kind. In a message posted on its developer site late on Friday, Apple announced that it will comply with a Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) ruling that compels the company to allow third-party payment services to...
iOS App Store General Feature Dock 2

Apple Would Rather Pay Up to €50 Million in Fines Than Address 'Gatekeeper' App Store Behavior, Says EU Chief

Wednesday February 23, 2022 6:14 am PST by
Apple would rather pay a maximum of €50 million in fines than address concerns brought forward by the Dutch competition authority regarding developer access to third-party payment methods on the App Store, the EU's head of digital policy, Margrethe Vestager, has said. During a speech about the digital economy and privacy (via TechCrunch), Vestager said that Apple "essentially prefers paying...
iOS App Store General Feature Dock 2

Apple Defends App Store Changes in the Netherlands as Fines Reach €30 Million

Monday February 28, 2022 9:32 am PST by
Amid an ongoing dispute with the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) in the Netherlands over the App Store, Apple has defended its plan to require app developers to submit an additional app binary for the Dutch storefront if they wish to use a third-party payment processing method. The ACM has ruled that Apple must allow dating apps in the Netherlands to use third-party payment...
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...
google one app

Google One Disappears From App Store a Day After VPN Launch [Update: Google One is Back in the App Store]

Wednesday February 2, 2022 12:01 pm PST by
The Google One app for iPhone and iPad appears to have mysteriously disappeared from the App Store this morning, and it is no longer available for download. As noted on Reddit, attempting to download the Google One app in the United States and Canada pops up an error message that says "App Not Available." It is not clear why the app has been removed from the App Store at this time, and...
google play alternative billing

Google Play Will Let Developers Use Alternative Billing Systems in South Korea, While Apple Has Yet to Make Changes

Thursday November 4, 2021 8:57 am PDT by
The South Korean government recently passed a law that bans Apple and Google from requiring developers to use their in-app purchase systems in the App Store and Google Play respectively, and Google has now announced changes to comply with the law. In a blog post, Google said it will be giving developers the option to add an alternative in-app billing system alongside the Play Store's billing ...
iOS App Store General Feature Dock

Dutch Regulator Says Apple's Plan for Third-Party In-App Payments is Insufficient, Fines Apple 5 Million Euros

Monday January 24, 2022 6:33 am PST by
The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has ruled that Apple's plan to allow App Store dating apps to use third-party payment methods for in-app purchases does not sufficiently meet the requirements of a previous ruling. As a result, the ACM has hit Apple with an initial 5 million euro fine as a consequence, and fines will continue to be assessed at 5 million euros per week up to a...

Popular Stories

ios 16 beta 5 battery percent

iOS 16 Beta 5: Battery Percentage Now Displayed in iPhone Status Bar

Monday August 8, 2022 10:43 am PDT by
With the fifth beta of iOS 16, Apple has updated the battery icon on iPhones with Face ID to display the specific battery percentage rather than just a visual representation of battery level. The new battery indicator is available on iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models, with the exception of the 5.4-inch iPhone 12/13 mini. It is also available on the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max, XS and XS Max, and...
iPhone 14 Lineup Feature Purple

Color Options for All iPhone 14 Models: Everything We Know

Monday August 8, 2022 3:59 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models are rumored to be available in a refreshed range of color options, including an all-new purple color. Most expectations about the iPhone 14 lineup's color options come from an unverified post on Chinese social media site Weibo earlier this year. Overall, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro's selection of color options could look fairly similar to those of the ...
iOS 16 battery percentage

Apple Limiting iOS 16 Beta 5 Battery Percentage Display to Select iPhones: Here Are the Supported Devices

Tuesday August 9, 2022 2:51 am PDT by
Apple this week brought back one of the most highly requested features from iOS users since the launch of the iPhone X in 2017: the ability to see your battery percentage directly in the status bar. Ever since the launch of the iPhone X with the notch, Apple has not allowed users to show their battery percentage directly in the status bar, forcing them to swipe down into Control Center to...
ios 16 battery indicator 2

Everything New in iOS 16 Beta 5: Battery Percentage in Status Bar, Find My Changes and More

Monday August 8, 2022 12:53 pm PDT by
Apple today seeded the fifth beta of iOS 16 to developers for testing purposes, introducing some small but notable changes to the iOS operating system. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. We've rounded up everything new in the fifth beta below. Battery Percentage in Status Bar The battery icon in the status bar now displays the exact battery percent, a feature that ...
iphone 14 pro max camera bump compared lipilipsi 16 9

Bigger iPhone 14 Pro Max Camera Bump Shown Alongside iPhone 13 Pro Max

Monday August 8, 2022 4:33 am PDT by
The camera bump on the upcoming iPhone 14 Pro Max is expected to be the largest rear lens housing Apple has ever installed on its flagship smartphones, and a new photo offers a rare glimpse at just how prominent it is compared to Apple's predecessor device. iPhone 14 Pro Max dummy (left) vs iPhone 13 Pro Max All iPhone 14 models are expected to see upgrades to the Ultra Wide camera on the...
cook sept 2020 event

Gurman: Apple Preparing Pre-Recorded iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8 Event

Sunday August 7, 2022 6:13 am PDT by
Apple has "started to record" its virtual September event, where it's expected to announce the upcoming iPhone 14 lineup, the Apple Watch Series 8, and a new "rugged" Apple Watch model, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Writing in his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman says the event, which is expected to take place in the early part of September, is already under production, implying...
airpods pro black background

Beyond iPhone 14: Five Apple Products Expected to Launch Later This Year

Monday August 8, 2022 9:43 am PDT by
While the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8 are expected to be announced in September as usual, there are several more Apple products rumored to launch later this year, including new iPad and Mac models and more. Beyond the iPhone and Apple Watch, we've put together a list of five Apple products that are most likely to be unveiled by the end of 2022. Second-Generation AirPods Pro Apple...