Thursday, January 20, 2022

“American Innovation and Choice Online” and “Open Markets” Acts

Makena Kelly:

On Tuesday, the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission launched a joint effort to modernize antitrust enforcement, seeking comment on how the agencies can apply current law in cases against tech companies like Meta (parent company of Facebook) and Google.


Tuesday’s announcement follows new plans in the Senate to push through a pair of bills targeting tech giants like Apple, Meta, and Google. The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to vote on the American Innovation and Choice Online and the Open App Markets Acts on Thursday — bills that would outlaw dominant platforms from abusing their market dominance, allow third-party app stores, and protect software sideloading.

Juli Clover:

U.S. bills that would require major changes to the App Store would ultimately cause consumers to be targeted with malware, ransomware, and scams, Apple’s Senior Director of Government Affairs Timothy Powderly said in a letter that was sent today to the Senate Judiciary Committee and that was obtained by MacRumors.

Apple sent the letter as the Judiciary Committee prepares to consider the American Innovation and Choice Online Act and the Open Markets Act, which were first introduced in June 2021.

Timothy Powderly:

In addition to making privacy and security protections nearly impossible to defend, the bills would actually allow predators and scammers to side-step Apple’s privacy and security protections completely.

See also: David Heinemeier Hansson.

Juli Clover:

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today approved the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which means it will now move on to the Senate floor for a vote, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Juli Clover:

Illinois is the latest state to attempt to pass legislation that would prevent developers from being required to use Apple’s in-app purchase options by allowing for alternate payment solutions within apps.


Update (2022-01-24): See also: Leah Nylen.

Ryan Tracy (via Hacker News):

A Senate panel approved antitrust legislation forbidding the largest tech platforms from favoring their own products and services over competitors’, scoring a win for backers of stricter Big Tech regulation against fierce industry opposition.

Update (2022-01-25): David Heinemeier Hansson:

The Mac is such an inconvenient platform for Apple. It prevents the company from making any credible claim of an impending security catastrophe, if lawmakers force the iPhone to allow installation of apps without the App Store. With the Mac, we have almost forty years of proof that computers don’t need an App Store to be safe. Made by the same company that now tries to pretend to legislators that this isn’t possible!

The fact is that the iPhone is already a considerably more secure device than even the Mac! Apps run in a tighter sandbox, and everything is far more locked down than traditional computers. This is where the defense against malware rests, along with the kill-switch power to nix any app that exploit novel vulnerabilities to escape detection up front.

The only thing these technical defenses can’t guard against is business model threats. That’s why Apple employs thousands of people in the App Store review department without any technical or security qualifications! Because they’re not there to uncover security threats, only threats to the faucet of monopoly rents.

Update (2022-02-04): Juli Clover:

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will on Thursday consider the Open App Markets Act, an antitrust bill that would allow for sideloading and alternate app stores.

Ahead of the meeting, Apple’s head of government affairs in the Americas Tim Powderly sent a letter to committee members, urging them to reject the bill[…]

Ashley Gold (via Hacker News):

A bill that would upend how Apple and Google run their mobile app stores easily made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.


The 20-2 vote shows there’s increasing support in Congress for the kinds of bills that aim to reel in Big Tech companies.


1 Comment RSS · Twitter

There's a middle ground that I feel gets lost in these debates between government and industry. Privacy and encryption are not mutually exclusive of open systems and more [genuine] choice. Of course, no one listens to this argument, because it's good for the people, not for hegemonic power of one side or the other.

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