Electronic Frontier Foundation Sides With Epic Games in Apple Antitrust Case

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has sided with Epic Games against Apple in their high-profile antitrust case.

In a new blog post, the EFF outlines its reasoning for making its statement, noting that Apple’s App Store rules in fact drive up app costs and limit usability for the everyday Apple user.

Last year, in the Epic Games v. Apple case, a court sided with the former, ruling that “since customers supposedly understand Apple’s policies and buy iPhones anyway when they could choose an Android phone, there’s competition in the market for distributing apps, and Apple’s ability to wield monopoly power is checked by competition from Android.”

The EFF, however, sides with Epic in the case, and filed an amicus brief stating that the trial court’s decision was contrary to law and defied the reality of mobile software distribution. According to the foundation, the decision incorrectly presumed that customers are aware of the App Store’s various restrictions when they purchase an iPhone:

On the first point, as we explained to the Ninth Circuit, the commercial realities of app distribution (and common sense) suggest that consumers can’t be expected to analyze and understand app costs. Even if users are aware of Apple’s rules before they choose a mobile device, they still have no way of knowing how much those rules raise the prices of apps and in-app purchases, or how the rules suppress innovation, or when Apple will decide to kick an app that users want out of the App Store. Users don’t know how their app needs, and the cost of apps, will change over the lifetime of their devices. And apps are just one consideration people have when buying devices. Further, the court erred in declining to recognize that app distribution and in-app payments are separate products, so that tying one to the other can be an antitrust violation.

We also urged the court to not to buy Apple’s arguments that it needs to keep control over app distribution to protect users’ security and privacy. Despite Apple’s claim that only its paternalistic approach to security and privacy can protect users, Apple bans apps and features that would serve a wider range of those needs, like VPN apps for international travelers and apps that tell the user if their device has been jailbroken. More broadly, our antitrust laws are based on the principle that competition is the best way to create better, safer products, so Apple’s argument that more competition would be harmful to users shouldn’t fly with the court. We’re hopeful that the Ninth Circuit will correct these errors and order Apple to drop its restrictive App Store rules.

Read the entire post over at the EFF’s website.