Apple Asks U.S. Senate to Reject Bill That Would Allow Outside Apps

Apple is making a final stand against an antitrust bill that would force the company to allow app “sideloading” on its devices and is set to be tabled before a U.S. Senate committee for approval on Thursday — reports Bloomberg.

Bill S. 2710 is one of several antitrust bills currently being considered by the U.S. Senate that seek to prevent big tech companies from establishing monopoly-like dominance in their respective markets through anti-competitive business practices.

If passed, the bill would force the iPhone maker to let users download and install apps from sources outside the App Store. Sideloading apps is already allowed on Apple’s macOS but is restricted on all of the company’s mobile Operating Systems.

“Sideloading would enable bad actors to evade Apple’s privacy and security protections by distributing apps without critical privacy and security checks,” Tim Powderly, Apple’s head of government affairs in the Americas, wrote in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee’s Chair Dick Durbin and ranking Republican Chuck Grassley.

“These provisions would allow malware, scams and data-exploitation to proliferate.”

According to Apple, the bill would hurt user security and privacy and give rise to expansive liability exposure and legal uncertainty. The Cupertino, California-based tech giant also said that the legislation, which would allow users to shop apps from third-party app markets and other sources, would deny consumer choice.

Apple’s Senior VP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, has previously said that sideloading would seriously undermine the iPhone’s security and open the flood gates to a malware “gold rush.”

While Powderly said in his letter that sideloading would harm security and user privacy, the practice also threatens Apple’s 15-30% cut of all purchases made through the App Store.

“We are deeply concerned that the legislation, unless amended, would make it easier for big social media platforms to avoid the pro-consumer practices of Apple’s App Store, and allow them to continue business as usual,” wrote Powderly.

The bill has bipartisan co-sponsors, meaning that it will likely be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. How it fares under the scrutiny of the full Senate, through, remains to be seen.