Apple can’t stop users from removing preinstalled apps under proposed antitrust bill
Last week, US lawmakers introduced five bipartisan antitrust bills targeted at Big Tech, namely Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook. These proposed antitrust bills aim to impose new constraints on how the Silicon Valley giants operate, end their anti-competitive business practices and restrict acquisitions and mergers. Among the proposed bills is the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which, if passed, would essentially prohibit Apple from restricting iPhone users from uninstalling pre-installed apps.
One of the provisions (via Bloomberg) in the bill prohibits companies like Apple from restricting or impeding users from uninstalling pre-loaded apps. As per US House Judiciary subcommittee antitrust Chairman Rep. David Cicilline, Apple must give its users complete control over which apps they want to use or remove — much like how Google has to present Android users in Europe with a search engine choice screen when setting up the device for the first time.
“It would be equally easy to download the other five apps as the Apple one so they’re not using their market dominance to favor their own products and services,” said David Cicilline to the press on Wednesday. “You can’t make it impossible for people to use other services that are the same. You can’t exclude other people so you only are left that one.”
The provision in question is mentioned under section 2 (b) (5) of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act:
It shall be unlawful for a person operating a covered platform, in or affecting commerce, to — restrict or impede covered platform users from uninstalling software applications that have been preinstalled on the covered platform or changing default settings that direct or steer covered platform users to products or services offered by the covered platform operator.
The bill also has a provision that would forbid tech giants from changing default settings that lead users to their products. Another bill that can likely affect Apple is the “Ending Platform Monopolies Act.” This bill would prevent platforms with at least 50 million monthly active users and a $600 billion market cap to own or control business that creates “a conflict of interest” and gives their products and services an unfair advantage.
Apple is yet to issue a public statement on the proposed bills.