The senate’s proposed legislation to regulate Apple’s App Store is not good for iPhone users

Senators want to rein in Apple and Google’s alleged app store monopolies

A bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday introduced legislation to regulate Google and Apple’s app stores, in the latest signal of the growing political will to loosen large tech companies’ grip on smaller developers.

The Open App Markets Act would fundamentally alter the way smartphone apps function by requiring companies running large app stores, like Apple and Google, to allow people to download apps outside of stores and grant users the ability to install alternative app stores.

The act prohibits Apple and Google from requiring developers to use their in-app payment systems, posing a major hit to the revenue the companies derive from commissions on in-app purchases. It would also prohibit companies from giving their own apps special preference in search results and bar such companies from extracting data from apps to build their own competing products.

The legislation proposed by the senators may be great for developers but it sure isn’t great for the majority of iPhone users.

I don’t have a problem with Apple being forced to allow developers to use their payment system outside the App Store. That said, as a consumer given the choice I will always choose to use Apple’s payment system. One because I trust Apple with my credit card information and two it’s easy to cancel a subscription or request a refund if I choose to.

The concerning issue for consumers is the allowing of sideloading and alternative app stores. Apple has made a case against the practice which is in the best interest of iPhone users.

Recently there have been growing calls for Apple to allow third-party app stores for the iOS and iPadOS platforms, which would enable a process known as “sideloading” — installing an app on a device that originates outside of the official App Store.

Proponents argue that Android allows sideloading, so Apple should too. Allowing users to install apps on their iPhones and iPads without Apple serving as an intermediary would alleviate concerns about its App Store rejections and fees, which have been part of an ongoing drama since the first authorized third-party iPhone apps debuted 13 years ago. Sideloading would also weaken arguments that Apple’s control of the App Store amounts to an illegal monopoly.

But many security experts — and fans of Apple’s privacy features — find such a proposal alarming. It’s true that Android allows sideloading, but sideloading is one of the main reasons that Google’s mobile operating system is so riddled with malware. Bad actors know that if they want to attack an Android device, the easiest way to do so is to hide it in a sideloaded app disguised as, for example, a popular anti-virus app or even an Android system update. Once the app is installed on the Android device, it can then inject the malware payload, such as ransomware.

To help the public better understand Apple’s stance on sideloading, the company has released its newest privacy white paper, which focuses on the topic.

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ldstephens

I’m a blogger with over 100K views on Medium and I’ve been here since 2015. I write about technology & other stuff. Sign-up for emails and never miss a story.