Apple Inc. has reportedly sent a letter to lawmakers arguing that two antitrust bills currently being considered in the Senate could put iOS users at greater risk of cyberattacks.

The iPhone maker sent the letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, CNBC reported on Tuesday. The two antitrust bills over which Apple has expressed concerns are set to be marked up by the Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Lawmakers could make amendments to the measures, as well as vote to bring them to the floor.

“These bills will reward those who have been irresponsible with users’ data and empower bad actors who would target consumers with malware, ransomware, and scams,” Timothy Powderly, Apple’s senior director of government affairs, wrote in the letter to lawmakers.

One of the bills over which Apple raised concerns in the letter is the Open App Markets Act, which was introduced by Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal and Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn. The bill would establish a new set of rules for app store operators such as Apple. 

Apple’s terms of service specify that iOS app developers must use the iPhone maker’s own payment system to process in-app transactions. The Open App Markets Act would reportedly require Apple to end this business practice. The proposed legislation could potentially affect Apple’s App Store revenues: The company takes a commission of up to 30% from in-app transactions.

The Open App Markets Act would also require the iPhone maker to allow sideloading, or the practice of installing apps on an iOS device from sources other than the App Store. Apple argues that permitting sideloading would increase the risk of consumers being targeted by hackers.

“If Apple is forced to enable sideloading, millions of Americans will likely suffer malware attacks on their phones that would otherwise have been stopped,” Apple’s letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee stated.

The second bill over which Apple raised concerns is the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which was introduced by Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar and Republican Senator Chuck Grassley. The measure would prevent companies with dominant online platforms from favoring their own products and services over those of competitors. 

“The bill does not force Apple to allow unscreened apps onto Apple devices,” a spokesperson for Senator Klobuchar told CNBC. “All of Apple’s arguments about ‘sideloading’ really amount to a desperate attempt to preserve their app store monopoly, which they use to charge huge fees from businesses they are competing against. Let’s be clear – this multitrillion-dollar company is more that capable of protecting privacy and security while still giving consumers greater choice by allowing competition. The legislation includes strong provisions that all platforms to safeguard user privacy and security.”

Apple rival Google LLC has also penned a letter expressing concerns over the proposed antitrust legislation being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Google stated in the letter that “antitrust law is about ensuring that companies are competing hard to build their best products for consumers. But the vague and sweeping provisions of these bills would break popular products that help consumers and small businesses.”

On Tuesday, the same day Apple and Google sent their letters, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice launched a process that could result in updates to the regulatory guidelines governing company mergers. An update to merger guidelines could potentially impact the acquisition strategies of Apple, Google and other tech giants. Apple and Google regularly acquire other companies to support business initiatives.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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