No matter what the courts decide, we need to end app store monopolies in order to protect human rights and freedom of expression around the globe
Today marks the end of the high profile court battle between Epic and Apple. But while the trial has often been framed as a spat between two large companies, the overall debate over Apple’s app store monopoly has enormous implications for human rights, freedom of expression, and the future of technology.
Digital rights group Fight for the Future, known for organizing the largest online protests in human history against SOPA/PIPA and in defense of net neutrality, as well as nationwide protests opposing the FBI’s attempt to force Apple to weaken its encryption on iPhones, issued the following statement, which can be attributed to the groups Director, Evan Greer (she/her):
When you buy a phone, it’s your phone. You should be able to install whatever software you want on it. That’s just common sense. But the app store monopoly is not just a consumer issue, it’s a human rights issue.
Apple’s stranglehold over what software can run on more than 1 billion people’s phones creates a choke point that authoritarian regimes have repeatedly abused to censor apps used by protesters, journalists, and marginalized groups like LGBTQ folks and religious minorities.
The reality is that the Epic vs Apple case is not going to solve this problem, no matter what the judge decides. We need to build a mass movement that forces Apple to end its draconian policy against allowing people to "side-load" whatever software they want onto devices that they own. And we need to demand strong Federal data privacy legislation and robust antitrust enforcement not just focused on Apple, but other Big Tech giants like Facebook, Google, and Amazon.
Regardless of the outcome of this trial, we will continue fighting to ensure that the future of technology is based on openness and basic rights, rather than walled gardens, government censorship, and corporate greed.
Fight for the Future is behind AbolishTheAppStore.org, a campaign calling on Apple to end its app store monopoly and allow iPhone users to install whatever apps they want, including alternative app stores. The group also issued a joint-statement with China-based anti-censorship organization Great Fire, explaining how Apple’s restrictive app store policies have enabled government censorship and undermined human rights.