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HomePoliticsTech, Consumer Groups Voice Support For Open App Markets Act

Tech, Consumer Groups Voice Support For Open App Markets Act

U.S. SenateWashington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) along with U.S. Representatives Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Ken Buck (R-Colo.), and David Cicilline (D-R.I.) have introduced the Open App Markets Act to establish fair, clear, and enforceable rules to protect competition and strengthen consumer protections within the app market.

Senator Marsha Blackburn.
Senator Marsha Blackburn.

Technology and consumer groups have voiced their strong support of the Open App Markets Act:  

Sumit Sharma, Senior Researcher, Technology Competition at Consumer Reports, said, “The targeted market rules proposed in this legislation will help create an app ecosystem that is fairer and more competitive, and will enable unfettered innovation by all companies – big and small – to the benefit of consumers. The legislation is crucial as smartphones have become central to our digital ecosystem, and apps are increasingly the primary mode for consumers to access online services.”

Meghan DiMuzio, Executive Director, Coalition for App Fairness, said, “Since launching CAF, we have worked toward creating a fairer and more competitive app marketplace for both developers and consumers. The bipartisan Open App Markets Act is a step towards holding big tech companies accountable for practices that stifle competition for developers in the U.S. and around the world. CAF is proud to stand with Senators Blumenthal, Blackburn, and Klobuchar and we thank them for their courageous and visionary leadership on this important issue.”

Mike Davis, Founder and President, Internet Accountability Project, said, “There’s no doubt the fight against Big Tech is a battle of David versus Goliath. The Internet Accountability Project applauds Sens. Blackburn, Blumenthal, and Klobuchar for their bipartisan leadership. The Open App Markets Act takes a serious crack at breaking up Big Tech monopolies and increasing competition and innovation, all while protecting user privacy. Startups should have a fighting chance against monopolists, and this legislation takes an important step toward ending the crushing dominance of Big Tech.”

Alex Harman, Competition Policy Advocate at Public Citizen, said, “The power of large app stores to extract enormous profits is a direct result of the anticompetitive and unfair way in which the stores are operated and controlled. This bipartisan legislation will open up the app stores to more competition, protect small app developers, and lower prices for consumers.”

 


 

Horacio Gutierrez, Spotify’s Head of Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer, said, “Spotify applauds the bipartisan leadership of Senators Klobuchar, Blumenthal, and Blackburn for introducing the Open App Markets Act and for their courage and resolve in holding Apple and other gatekeeper platforms accountable for their unfair and anti-competitive practices. These platforms control more commerce, information, and communication than ever before, and the power they exercise has huge economic and societal implications. That’s why we urge Congress to swiftly pass the Open App Markets Act. Absent action, we can expect Apple and others to continue changing the rules in favor of their own services, and causing further harm to consumers, developers, and the digital economy.”

“Spotify commends Representatives Johnson, Buck, and Cicilline for their bipartisan, steadfast commitment to protecting consumers, developers, and the digital economy.  Apple has used the iOS platform and its App Store policies to insulate itself from competition and disadvantage rivals for far too long.  By introducing the Open App Markets Act in both chambers of Congress, we’re one important step closer to curbing Apple’s anticompetitive behavior, leveling the playing field, and restoring competition for all,” Horacio Gutierrez continued.

Arisha Hatch, Vice President of Color Of Change, said, “It is past due Big Tech companies like Apple and Google are forced to loosen their stranglehold on small businesses. Monopolized digital industries drain any opportunity for small business owners and only centralize power to the already massive tech corporations — and congressional legislation is our greatest tool to combat them. The Open App Markets Act is the kind of legislation necessary to ensure greater protections for small and medium sized developers, especially those who are Black and people of color. Color Of Change commends Senators Blumenthal, Blackburn, and Klobuchar for challenging Big Tech’s widespread power and implementing the effective legislation that will guarantee greater opportunity for Black developers and their communities.”

David Chavern, President and CEO, News Media Alliance, said, “The News Media Alliance supports competition in the distribution of content. We applaud Senators Blackburn, Blumenthal, and Klobuchar for their leadership in removing roadblocks and unnecessary fees associated with apps that allow news publishers to disseminate and monetize quality journalism.”

John Bergmayer, Legal Director at Public Knowledge, said, “Users expect their mobile devices to keep them protected and their personal data safe, but the same practices intended to protect users can also be used to restrict fair competition. The Open App Markets Act will ensure fairness for both users and developers without forcing security or privacy compromises, resulting in greater consumer choices and lower prices in the app ecosystem.”

 


 

Kirsten Daru, General Counsel for Tile, said, “We’re thankful to Senators Blumenthal, Blackburn, and Klobuchar for leading this bipartisan effort to address this incredibly important issue. Tile has experienced firsthand Apple’s systemic abuse of its market power specific to the app ecosystem. Apple has worked for years to disadvantage our products and make it harder for us to serve our customers, and we recently found out why when they introduced a competing product earlier this year. Despite numerous congressional inquiries and hearings, Apple’s anti-competitive practices have not only continued, they’ve gotten worse and more brazen. In the face of this utter disregard for the principles of fair competition, Congress has no choice but to act. While we’re grateful for efforts in Congress to address broader anti-competitive concerns, fixing the broken app ecosystem is something that need not wait. Every day that Apple continues to wield its market dominance with reckless abandon is a day where innovation suffers, competition is squashed, and consumers pay. This bill would go a long way toward re-establishing a level playing field where innovation can thrive, and we urge Congress to act on it without delay.”

Zach Graves, Head of Policy, Lincoln Network, said, “The proliferation of digital walled gardens has led to a range of new challenges to free speech, competition, and human rights. Yet, many recent proposals for tech regulations have been punitive and heavy-handed. Such an approach threatens to weaken the American innovation ecosystem, ultimately increasing costs and reducing options for consumers. The Open App Markets Act offers a better way forward, taking a light-touch regulatory approach to increase market competition and empower consumers with more options (and to vote with their feet). While all such regulations have tradeoffs, I believe this legislation strikes the right balance, allocating appropriate exemptions for privacy and security, and avoiding overly-cumbersome design mandates. Under this law, consumers will be more free to choose their digital world.”

Gerard Scimeca, Chairman, CASE, said, “Mobile apps are a driving force in bringing new technologies into our digital economy while generating billions of dollars in GDP. Through this important piece of legislation, Senators Blackburn, Blumenthal, and Klobuchar have taken an enormous step forward in working to ensure that the mobile app market is open, fair, and not beholden to anti-competitive actions or incentives. If passed into law, the Open App Markets Act will play a major role in securing America’s continued leadership in digital innovation that benefits all consumers and every sector of our economy.”

Joel Thayer, President, Digital Progress Institute, said, “The Open App Markets Act represents a thoughtful and pragmatic approach to facilitate equity in the app economy. This Act would provide small-business developers with the appropriate leverage to challenge large app store platforms’ often mercurial standards and forced taxes on their innovative products. The Digital Progress Institute welcomes this much needed and bipartisan reform to the tech ecosystem.”

Andy Yen, Founder & CEO, Proton said, “App stores are the lifeblood of all digital companies, including disruptors like Proton. Gatekeepers like Apple and Google have been consolidating market power in their app marketplaces for years, ultimately to the detriment of consumers. They have exploited their control to impose extortionate conditions on developers, like compelling use of their own payment systems and charging 30% transaction fees. This amounts to a massive tax on the Internet, one that often gets passed onto consumers through higher prices or reduced investment in competitive innovations. Ending these monopoly abuses on mobile payments would not only create fairer prices, but also promote competition while benefiting developers and consumers alike. Proton applauds Senators Blumenthal, Blackburn, and Klobuchar for recognizing these realities, and drafting a bill that would unleash a seismic level of innovation.”

 

 

Ernesto Falcon, Senior Legislative Counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said, “Senators Blumenthal, Blackburn, and Klobuchar recognize that independent 3rd party developers are being restricted in anti-competitive ways that impact what users pay for video games and other software. The Open App Markets Act will put a stop to these practices, which will lower the costs for both developers and their customers by setting forth common sense competition policy for the industry.”

Jon Schweppe, Director of Policy and Government Affairs, American Principles Project, said, “A healthy free market requires open and fair competition. Unfortunately, Big Tech companies have rigged the game by engaging in anti-competitive practices that restrict the ability for innovators and entrepreneurs to challenge their market dominance. This not only distorts the free market at large, but it harms consumers directly. The Open App Markets Act gets to the heart of the problem with the app store market: Google and Apple have leveraged their market power to prevent any of their competitors from achieving a foothold, resulting in higher prices and a lack of choices for consumers. Sen. Blackburn deserves a great deal of credit for taking on this challenging issue and doing so in a bipartisan manner. American Principles Project is proud to support the bill.”

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Brendan Carr, said, “I applaud Senator Blackburn, Senator Blumenthal, and Senator Klobuchar for their leadership in working to rein in Big Tech. The gatekeeper power that corporate behemoths now exercise over the app economy is harming consumers and competition. This legislation is a thoughtful way to eliminate those harms while promoting innovation.”

Economic Liberties’ Director of State and Local Policy Pat Garofalo said, “We applaud Sen. Blumenthal and his co-sponsors for introducing this important measure to break the power of app store gatekeepers. It’s an important step in the effort to rein in the power of Big Tech corporations and ensure access to markets for American entrepreneurs and innovators. Dominant gatekeepers like Apple and Google are able to use their outsized power to extract enormous fees from small- and mid-sized businesses, with the ever-present threat of severing those businesses from their own customers. The set of rights laid out in this bill – including payment systems freedom, protections from retaliation, and giving consumers the ability to access alternative app stores – are vital to creating fairer commerce online.”

 


 

Corie Wright, VP Public Policy of Epic Games, said, “Apple and Google’s anticompetitive app store conduct is in clear violation of existing antitrust law, which is why Epic brought litigation against them. We are fortunate to be in a position that allows us to oppose them in Court and withstand their retribution, including the removal of Fortnite from the App Store and Google Play. The introduction of this bill is an important milestone in the continued fight for fairer digital platforms. Its passage would enable developers to seek injunctions for violations of the Act, which will help level the playing field for small companies standing up to monopolists who are abusing their market power. This will make it easier for developers of all sizes to challenge these harmful practices and seek relief from retaliation, be it during litigation or simply because they dared speak up.”

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