Apple App Store

Open App Markets Act marked up bringing App Store changes one step closer

Open App Markets Act was passed by the Senate Judiciary committee almost unanimously

The US Senate Judiciary Committee marked up the “Open App Markets Act.” The bill, introduced by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), passed out of the committee with a landslide vote.

The Open App Markets Act was passed by the Senate Judiciary committee almost unanimously, with 20 votes in favour of it and one against it. The one senator who voted against the bill was John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas.

Some of the senators on the committee noted that they were voting in favour of the legislation despite concerns about its current implementation details.

Under the bill as its worded today, app stores with more than 50 million users in the United States would not be allowed to force developers to use the platform’s payment system. Companies would also not be allowed to punish developers for offering apps through other platforms and different price points, and it would give developers the ability to communicate directly with their users.

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App store operators have opposed the bill as originally drafted, warning it could jeopardize consumer privacy and result in a worse user experience.

This bill could destroy many consumer benefits that current payment systems provide and distort competition by exempting gaming platforms, which amounts to Congress trying to artificially pick winners and losers in a highly competitive marketplace,” Google VP of Government Affairs and Public Policy Mark Isakowitz said in a statement ahead of the markup.

In a letter to Judiciary Committee leaders, Apple Senior Director of Government Affairs in the Americas Timothy Powderly wrote,

“We are 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, and allow them to continue business as usual.

It does so by mandating that Apple allow the sideloading of apps and app stores that need not comply with the App Store’s pro-consumer privacy protections.”

Members on both sides of the aisle raised concerns about how the bill would impact consumer privacy and security. The committee adopted a manager’s amendment at the beginning of the markup that makes more clear the types of security considerations app stores can take that would not violate the law.

Some members said they hoped the bill’s sponsors would continue working with them on further updates.