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NetChoice Responds to Blackburn and Blumenthal’s Pooh-Poohing of Open App Markets Act’s Privacy Problems

Today, NetChoice received the following statement made by Sens. Blackburn and Blumenthal. The statement doesn’t appear to have been linked to on their social media accounts or their websites yet. Below their statement is our response.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) released the following statement in response to Apple CEO Tim Cook’s false comments on the Open App Markets Act.

“Tim Cook seems terrified of increased competition, and Apple does not want Americans to have the option to circumvent their App Store monopoly. We fully agree with the need for comprehensive privacy legislation and have been actively discussing this with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle. However, it misses the mark to say we can’t have both consumer privacy and competition in the app marketplace. As passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Open App Markets Act acknowledges this balance. Suggesting otherwise is a scare tactic to justify closing markets off to competition.” — Senators Blackburn and Blumenthal

The following can be attributed to Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice.

The Open App Markets App will empower bad actors to circumvent security features implemented by Apple and other leading App Store providers and will put vulnerable internet users, such as the elderly, at increased risk. Today’s statement by Sens. Blumenthal (D-CT) and Blackburn (R-TN) fails to address serious privacy issues with the proposed legislation.

Tim Cook’s fear is for the safety and security of every iPhone user if Congress advances the Open App Markets Act. This bill effectively prevents Apple and Google from blocking criminal applications from App stores until the data is already stolen. This forces App stores to expose American’s personal and financial information to any hacker who builds an app and hope they don’t steal it.

The legislation ignores that Apple’s App Store is only one of many choices consumers have when downloading digital software and services, including from Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Epic Games. And for some reason the bill exempts other closed systems like Microsoft’s Xbox, Sony’s PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch.

Blackburn and Blumenthal are right that we can have competition and privacy in the app marketplace, but their legislation would undermine user security and privacy. Multiple polls have shown Americans want privacy legislation, not government mandates that undermine how their phones work. The Open App Markets Act will make it harder for businesses like Apple to cater to the privacy and security needs of their customers.