Apple: Antitrust bill will increase security risks for iPhone users

Apple warned in a letter to lawmakers on Tuesday that an antitrust bill under consideration in the Senate would increase the risk of iPhone users facing security breaches, in part because it could force the company to allow apps to be downloaded outside the App Store.

These bills put consumers at risk because of the real risks of privacy and security breaches, Timothy Powderly, Apple’s senior director of government affairs, wrote in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Apple has been under scrutiny by regulators over the past few years for its control of the App Store. The App Store is the only way to install apps on the iPhone. For digital purchases made through the iPhone app, Apple takes a 15% to 30% cut.

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act, introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa, would prohibit mainstream app platforms from favoring their own products over competitors. This could have major implications for companies like Apple, Google and Amazon.

The Open App Market Act, introduced by Connecticut Democrats Richard Blumenthal and Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn, would also prevent mainstream platforms from favoring their own products, but it specifically targets app stores.

For example, the bill would prevent companies with mainstream app stores like Apple and Google from restricting the distribution of apps based on whether developers use the platform’s in-app payment system.

Apple has long argued that its control of the App Store is critical to providing a safe and private experience for its customers, who otherwise risk being installed with malware. Android phones allow users to sideload apps, although users must agree to several warning pop-ups in the software to do so.

In Tuesday’s letter, Apple warned that allowing users to sideload apps as permitted by the bill would be “a huge loss to consumers,” saying it would allow app developers to ignore Apple’s privacy policy and Open the door for scammers to attack.

If Apple were forced to enable sideloading, millions of Americans’ phones could be exposed to malware attacks that would have been prevented, Powderly wrote in the letter. Apple argues that the bills should give the company the ability to defend its rules on the grounds of increasing consumer welfare.

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