The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Thursday to approve a bill that would curb app stores from companies they say exert too much control over the market, particularly Apple and Alphabet’s Google. The measure, sponsored by Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar as well as Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn, would prevent major app stores from requiring vendors to use their payment system.
Blumenthal noted the 30% discount that Google and Apple take for many app and app purchases and subscriptions, saying it was a sign of “monopoly power” and raised prices for consumers.
Blackburn accused Silicon Valley executives of “arrogance” and refusing to engage with Congress.
“I don’t want to say or make people believe that I’m saying big tech is bad, because big isn’t bad. But it’s clear that guardrails are now needed,” Blackburn added.
Apple said in a letter sent to key lawmakers that the measure promotes “sideloading,” or sideloading, of apps on Apple devices without using the company’s App Store, which would allow those app companies to to avoid what the letter called Apple’s “pro-consumer.” privacy protections.”
Google has already reduced the commission it charges apps for using its payment system, although this will reduce its revenue.
“We have made our concerns clear to Congress. This bill could destroy many of the consumer benefits that current payment systems provide and distort competition by exempting gaming platforms, which is up to Congress to trying to artificially pick winners and losers in a highly competitive market,” said Mark Isakowitz, Google’s vice president for public policy.
The stakes are high for Apple, whose App Store anchors its $68.4 billion (roughly Rs. 5,11,100 crore) services business as the smartphone market matures.
The biggest tech companies, including Meta’s Facebook and Amazon, have come under pressure in Congress over allegations they abused their outsized market power.
© Thomson Reuters 2021