Open App Markets Act Progresses as Industry Debate Rages

New South Korean Law Could Change App Store Payments

The Open App Markets Act passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. The legislation has been hotly debated, but Proton, the makers of encrypted email service ProtonMail, welcomed the move, while Apple and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are amongst those voicing their opposition.

Proton Backs Open App Markets App

If passed, the legislation would mean that any app store with over 50 million U.S. users would be banned from forcing developers to use its own payment system. In a statement, Proton CEO Andy Yen said:

The Open App Markets Act is proof that Congress is serious about finally reining in many of Big Tech’s most anti-competitive practices. The U.S. tech sector has consolidated around a few large gatekeepers not because their products are inherently better but because they use their power to lock consumers in while keeping competition out. If passed into law, the Open App Markets Act would let developers do business freely rather than be suffocated by a litany of abusive terms imposed on them by Big Tech. It is no surprise that this bill has support across the political spectrum and throughout the startup community, and its passage would ensure greater innovation in the market as well as more choice for consumers. The job is not done, but Washington has taken a crucial step toward unleashing the next great tech breakthrough, and we implore legislators to consider this bill on the full Senate floor.

Apple and Chamber of Commerce Raise Concerns

As 9to5Mac noted, Apple has aired its opposition to The Open App Markets Act. On Wednesday, its government affairs chief Tim Powderly said in a letter to lawmakers that the company is “deeply concerned that the legislation, unless amended, would make it easier for big social media platforms to avoid the pro-consumer practices of Apple’s App Store.”

The move was also not welcomed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In a letter sent to members of the Committee on the Judiciary, Neil L. Bradley, its Executive Vice President, reiterated the organization’s opposition:

This bill would fundamentally change the relationship among app stores, their customers, and app developers. This legislation would mandate that app stores with 50 million or more customers allow users to install third-party apps outside of their app stores, which would greatly increase the risk that users would unintentionally and unknowingly download malware. Moreover, the bill would establish a private right of action enabling developers to seek treble damages, which would effectively eliminate app vetting and prescreening.
Antitrust laws should not create two sets of competition rules, in which business conduct is either procompetitive or anticompetitive.

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