Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks on Hey, parental control apps during antitrust hearing

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Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about some of the company's App Store policies during Wednesday's U.S. House antitrust hearing.

Throughout the hours-long meeting, Cook maintained that the App Store is a significant job creator and that it treats every app submitted to the platform fairly and equally.

"It's an economic miracle that the App Store allows a person in their basement to start a company and serve 170 countries in the world. I believe it's the highest job creator in the last decade," Cook said.

The Apple executive also spoke on several controversies that have surfaced over the past few years, including the removal of parental control apps in 2019. When Rep. Rep. Val Butler Demings inquired about the pulling of those apps from the App Store, Cook said it was due to the potentially dangerous use of mobile device management (MDM) routines and concerns about child privacy and security.

Rep. Lucy McBath also asked Cook about parental control apps, and suggested that they may have been seen as a threat to Apple's own Screen Time feature. Cook refuted that allegation and again reiterated that it was about privacy and security.

McBath also asked Cook about Apple blocking the Random House app from the App Store in 2010, suggesting that it was because of competition with then-recently launched iBooks. Cook said there were "many reasons" why an app may not be approved, such as if the app doesn't work properly.

U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler asked Cook about its 15% to 30% cut of in-app purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, he said that developers told the committee that Apple was calling them up to "extract" that commission when they switched business models during the pandemic.

"A pandemic is a tragedy, and it's hurting Americans and people all around the world. We would never take advantage. I believe the cases you are talking about are cases where something has moved to a digital service, which technically does need to go through our commission model," Cook said. "But in both of the cases I am aware of, we are working with the developers."

The chairman offered the Hey app as an example, though Cook didn't expand on the issue much except to say that the dustup with the Basecamp-created email client was now resolved.

 

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