Tech giant predicts ‘malware’ chaos
“The bills put consumers in harm’s way because of the real risk of privacy and security breaches,” Apple’s senior director of government affairs, Timothy Powderly, wrote in a letter to the Senate Justice Committee, according to CNBC. If Apple is forced to enable “sideloading,” Powderly added, “millions of Americans will likely suffer malware attacks on their phones that would otherwise have been stopped.”
Currently, only Apple-approved programs can be installed on iPhones and iPads via the App Store. The two bills currently under consideration in committee might outlaw the practice, which Apple says increases “consumer welfare” and should be kept.
The American Innovation and Choice Online Act seeks to prohibit platforms from favoring their own products over those of rivals. It was introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar, (D-Minnesota) and Chuck Grassley, (R-Iowa). The Open App Markets Act focuses specifically on app stores, and likewise seeks to prevent “dominant” platforms from giving preference to their own products. Senators Richard Blumenthal, (D-Connecticut) and Marsha Blackburn, (R-Tennessee) are its sponsors.
Google’s Android mobile operating system already allows sideloading, though it warns users repeatedly of the risks of doing so.
Apple has fought to retain full control over the software users are allowed to install, arguing it ensures extra security and privacy. Just last week, however, a fraud detector service flagged a vulnerability in Apple’s default web browser app, Safari, enabling malicious sites to access personal data.
Regulators and lawmakers have also pointed out Apple gets a 15-30% cut from all transactions made through iPhone apps. The Blumenthal-Blackburn bill would prohibit platforms from conditioning sales on developers’ use of the in-app payment system.
On Tuesday, more than 30 companies sent a letter of their own to the Senate, backing the Klobuchar-Grassley bill and saying the “gatekeeper status” of dominant platforms “prevents companies like us from competing on the merits.” The app developer Basecamp, search engines DuckDuckGo and Neeva, lyrics-centered media company Genius, and review service Yelp were among the signatories.