Apple’s Tim Cook warns of ‘unintended consequences’ in app store antitrust legislation

Apple's Tim Cook warns of 'unintended consequences' in app store antitrust legislation
Notes show how apple (AAPL) Its biggest hitter stands out in opposing government policies that might allow iPhone users to install apps from unofficial sources.

“We are deeply concerned about regulations that undermine privacy and security in the service of another objective,” Cook said in a speech to the International Association of Privacy Professionals. “Here in Washington and elsewhere, policymakers are taking steps, in the name of competition, that would force Apple to allow apps on the iPhone that circumvent the App Store through a process called sideloading.”

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“But, if we had to allow unscanned apps on the iPhone, the unintended consequences would be profound,” Cook added.

Apple has long argued that strict platform policies and strict oversight of app makers ensure that iOS apps are safe and trustworthy. But Apple critics, including many app developers, say Apple’s policies are strict, charging exorbitant fees and allowing Apple to maintain exclusive control of the iOS ecosystem at the expense of competition.

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Policy makers are increasingly moving to force mobile operating systems like iOS to accept apps from third-party app stores and websites. European lawmakers last month unveiled the Digital Markets Act, a sweeping antitrust proposal to regulate major app stores, social media platforms and so-called digital gatekeepers whose size and power allow them to dominate online markets. Meanwhile, a US bill focused more on app stores – the Open App Markets Act – passed the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year.
Former top national security officials have sided with Apple, saying that requiring iPhones to accept apps that may lack adequate security protections could eventually endanger the country.

For his part, Cook said on Tuesday that the proposed regulations would act against competition by effectively removing people’s ability to choose a platform that is safer and more privacy-protective. Since some app makers may move to host their apps in less rigorous app stores, Cook claimed, the overall result would be a weakening of consumer privacy and security.

“When companies decide to leave the App Store because they want to exploit user data, it can put a lot of pressure on people to interact with alternative app stores,” he said. “App stores whose privacy and security may not be protected.”

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