Senate lawmakers introduce bill targeting Apple App Store, Google Play

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A bipartisan group of US senators has introduced a bill meant to curb the market power of online app stores like the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Senators Richard Blumenthal, Amy Klobuchar, and Marsha Blackburn are sponsoring the bill, which is dubbed the "Open App Markets Act." It would place restrictions on massive app marketplaces, which the senators believe wield too much market control.

The bill would prohibit app stores from requiring developers to use their payment systems, for example. It would also bar app stores from punishing apps that offer different pricing structures through another online payment system or platform. Additionally, it bans app stores from using of non-public information to compete with third parties.

"I found this predatory abuse of Apple and Google so deeply offensive on so many levels. Their power has reached a point where they are impacting the whole economy in stifling and strangling innovation," Sen. Blumenthal said Wednesday, as reported by Reuters.

In addition to the Senate bill, Blumenthal says he expects companion legislation to be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives soon.

Dominant app stores have come under antitrust scrutiny in the past few years. Apple, for example, is currently in a legal battle with Epic Games over its App Store guidelines and its 15% to 30% commission on app and in-app purchases. Google is also in a dustup with Epic Games over its 30% commission.

There are also a number of antitrust bills currently in the House that are meant to rein in the power of major technology companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple. That antitrust package came on the heels of a monthslong investigation into the market power of Silicon Valley giants.

Apple and Google both slashed app store commissions for smaller developers and businesses in 2020. Apple, for its part, denies that the program was introduced because of the Epic Games lawsuit.