Tech Industry

Apple and Google speak out against tech-focused antitrust bills

Their statements arrive before a Senate debate Thursday about antitrust legislation targeting the tech industry.

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Apple sent a letter Tuesday to Senate Judiciary Committee members warning against two antitrust bills that could impact the tech industry. Meanwhile, Google published a blog post Tuesday titled, "The harmful consequences of Congress's anti-tech bills."

The letter and blog post arrive less than two days before a scheduled Senate debate over S.2992, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act.

The legislation targets companies operating "covered platforms," which essentially refers to a platform that has millions of monthly users and a market cap in the billions, and is a "critical trading partner for the sale or provision of any product or service offered on or directly related to the online platform." One platform that would fall into this category is Apple's App Store. 

Right now, iPhone and iPad users can only access apps through the App Store. If S.2992 passes into law, iPhone users might be able to access third-party apps outside of the App Store. The letter from Apple details the privacy issues that could affect users by making it difficult for Apple to oversee the collection and management of user data by apps downloaded outside of the App Store. Apple wrote that the bills would let predators and scammers completely sidestep Apple's protections.

"After a tumultuous year that witnessed multiple controversies regarding social media, whistleblower allegations of long-ignored risks to children and ransomware attacks that hobbled critical infrastructure, it would be ironic if Congress responds by making it much harder to protect the privacy and security of Americans' personal devices," Apple wrote. 

Google's blog post did not call out any bills by name. Instead, it referred to "anti-tech bills" and "antitrust law," saying these measures could "break" online services like Google Search, Maps and Gmail. The post also detailed how the bills could degrade the security and privacy of Google services and harm US technological leadership.

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act was announced on October 14, 2021, and introduced by US Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Chuck Grassley. 

"As dominant digital platforms -- some of the biggest companies our world has ever seen -- increasingly give preference to their own products and services, we must put policies in place to ensure small businesses and entrepreneurs still have the opportunity to succeed in the digital marketplace," Sen. Klobuchar said.

The US Senate debate on the American Innovation and Choice Online Act is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 20, at 9 a.m. ET.