Apple Says US Anti-Trust Bills Will Affect iPhone Security

Close up of Apple Logo on a Glass Wall

Apple has told American lawmakers that the anti-trust bills under consideration in the Senate will increase privacy and security risks to iPhone users.

In particular, the company is concerned about sideloading, which would allow users to download apps from outside the App Store. The bills in question are the American Innovation and Choice Online Act and the Open App Markets Act. It is expected that the US Senate will consider both bills this week.

Over the last few years, regulators have criticized Apple for its control over the App Store. Unlike the Android ecosystem, the App Store is the only way to install applications onto an iPhone. The company takes a 15%-30% cut on digital purchases.

What are Apple’s Concerns?

Apple claims that its control over the App Store is essential for security and privacy reasons. It argues that sideloading could lead to users installing malware onto their devices. This is because the move will allow app developers to circumvent Apple’s privacy and security policies.

This would open up the doors to malicious actors. In conclusion, the company said that enabling users to sideload apps would be a “big loss for consumers.”

Timothy Powderly, Apple’s senior director of government affairs, wrote the letter to the US Senators. “The bills put consumers in harm’s way because of the real risk of privacy and security breaches,” Powderly said. “But, if Apple is forced to enable sideloading, millions of Americans will likely suffer malware attacks on their phones that would otherwise have been stopped.”

What are the Anti-Trust Bills and How Will They Affect Tech Companies?

The two bills aim to prevent platforms with market dominance to give favorable treatment to their own products over their rivals. The American Innovation and Choice Online (AICO) Act could significantly impact Apple and Google, who host rival apps on their respective app stores. It could also impact Amazon’s market practices.

The Open App Markets Act focuses specifically on app stores. The bill aims to prevent dominant app stores from imposing conditions for app distribution. For example, it will disallow forcing developers to use the platform’s in-app payment system for payments.

Senator Disagrees with Apple’s Interpretation of the Bills

A spokesperson for Senator Klombuchar, one of the Senators who introduced the AICO Act, disagrees with Apple’s assessment. “The bill does not force Apple to allow unscreened apps onto Apple devices,” they said. “All of Apple’s arguments about ‘sideloading’ really amount to a desperate attempt to preserve their app store monopoly, which they use to charge huge fees from businesses they are competing against.”

“Let’s be clear – this multi-trillion dollar company is more than capable of  protecting privacy and security while still giving consumers greater choice by allowing competition. The legislation includes strong provisions that all platforms to safeguard user privacy and security.”

If you’re an iOS user and worry about your privacy, check out how you can protect yourself with the iOS 15 update.

Technology policy researcher
Prateek is a technology policy researcher with a background in law. His areas of interest include data protection, privacy, digital currencies, and digital literacy. Outside of his research interests, Prateek is an avid reader and is engaged in projects on sustainable farming practices in India.