As the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to hear testimony from aggrieved app developers, digital rights group Fight for the Future has launched a petition asking Congress to end Apple’s App Store monopoly
For years, Apple has maintained monopoly control over the App Store, preventing iOS users from installing software not purchased through the App Store on their iPhones and iPads. But that may be coming to an end, as Congressional lawmakers have begun scrutinizing the Silicon Valley giant’s business practices.
With the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled to hear testimony from tech companies, app developers, and media organizations, digital rights group Fight for the Future has launched a new website, AbolishTheAppStore.org, to ensure that lawmakers hear from ordinary people who have been impacted by Apple’s monopoly.
"By centralizing software distribution through the App Store, Apple is upholding the unjust laws of authoritarian regimes and restricting innovation in the mobile software industry," said Ken Mickles, CTO at Fight for the Future (he/him). "We believe that iOS should work like every other general purpose computing system, including Apple’s own MacOS. Developers should be free to create — and users should be free to install — software directly onto the devices that they own without asking for Apple’s permission."
While many of Apple’s competitors — like Google, Microsoft, or Samsung — also engage in various anti-competitive business practices, none of them force customers to purchase or install software exclusively through a proprietary storefront. Even people who own an Apple Mac laptop or desktop computer have the ability to install software from the open web. But not iPhone users. That’s good business for Apple, but it comes at a price; Apple has notoriously cooperated with authoritarian governments to remove apps from the App Store, preventing people around the world from accessing important information about political protests, religion, and LGBT+ topics.
"If you buy a phone, it’s your phone. You should have the right to install whatever software you want on it," said Evan Greer, Director of Fight for the Future (she/her). "By forcing iOS users to download apps exclusively through the App Store, Apple has created a choke point that governments use to censor political dissidents or discriminate against vulnerable people. Apple has also granted sweetheart deals to companies like Amazon for App Store participation, further empowering Big Tech companies at the expense of small businesses and human rights."
To learn more — or to contact your representatives in Congress in support of a free and fair digital marketplace — please visit AbolishTheAppStore.org