Senator Amy Klobuchar presented a revised version last night [PDF] of the American Choice and Innovation Act, as the U.S. government continues to work on legislation that targets big tech companies and would mandate sideloading on the iPhone.
There are few changes to the bill that would alleviate Apple’s concerns about it, and the Cupertino company provided a statement to MacRumors.
We created the iPhone and App Store to be a safe and trusted place for users to download the apps they love and a great business opportunity for developers around the world. The result was an unprecedented engine of economic growth, which enabled competition and innovation and allowed any developer with a great idea to reach Apple customers around the world.
We remain concerned that this legislation threatens to break that pattern and undermine the privacy and security protections our users depend on. Governments and international agencies around the world have explicitly advised against sideloading requirements, which would allow malicious actors to target users, including children, with malware and scams, and allow data-hungry companies to more easily track users without their consent. Ultimately, the changes to the bill are an acknowledgment that the legislation as originally written created unintended privacy and security vulnerabilities for users. We believe the proposed solutions fall far short of the protections consumers need and urge lawmakers to make further changes to avoid these unintended consequences.
POLITICS This Morning reported that some Senate Democrats are pushing back on the bill, but Democratic leaders are aiming for a vote by this summer. Democratic senators reportedly expressed “deep reservations” about voting for the bill in its current form because it could be too controversial for an election year, leading Klobuchar to introduce a new version.
The revised bill is designed to address some of the concerns raised by senators about sweeping changes to the tech industry that the legislation would introduce, but Apple maintains the changes don’t go far enough. The company says the changes prove that the original legislation causes “unintended privacy and security vulnerabilities” for users, and lawmakers need to make further changes to protect user privacy.
The updates make it easier for Apple to defend the privacy changes it implements, but Apple would still be required to demonstrate that each change is “reasonably appropriate and reasonably necessary” and could not be achieved by another “significantly less discriminatory” way. There is no change to Apple’s requirement to allow sideloading.
According to the wording of the bill, apps could be installed on iPhones outside of the App Store, making iOS much more similar to the Android platform. Companies like Facebook could circumvent privacy protections on the iPhone through sideloading and would not be subject to Apple’s rules against tracking. The bill targets US technology companies such as Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google, but places no restrictions on non-US companies such as Samsung, Oppo, Vivo and other smartphone makers competing with Apple, which could be a problem in the future. .
Apple has previously said that enabling sideloading will lead to a flood of new attacks on iPhone users from bad actors eager to access sensitive data stored on consumer devices. Predators and scammers could “completely circumvent Apple’s privacy and security protections”, with the bill allowing “malware, scams and data mining to proliferate”.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said in November that consumers looking to download apps should look to Android rather than iPhone. “If it’s important to you, you should buy an Android phone,” he said in an interview. “From our perspective, it would be like me being a car manufacturer saying [a customer] not to put airbags and seat belts in the car.”
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