Open App Markets Act aims to regulate app stores, moves to U.S. Senate vote
The conversation around app store monopolies has ramped up over the past few years, especially throughout Epic Games’ lawsuit against Apple and Google over monetization and policies. Slowly but surely, legislators are working on their own solutions, and now one proposed law in the United States has reached a significant milestone: passing the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Open App Markets Act, also known as S.2710, establishes rules for any app store with more than 50 million users — which right now includes the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and other similar platforms. Here’s the official description from Congress.gov:
The bill prohibits a covered company from (1) requiring developers to use an in-app payment system owned or controlled by the company as a condition of distribution or accessibility, (2) requiring that pricing or conditions of sale be equal to or more favorable on its app store than another app store, or (3) taking punitive action against a developer for using or offering different pricing terms or conditions of sale through another in-app payment system or on another app store.
The bill also bans app stores from “unreasonably [prefering] or [ranking] its own apps (or those of its business partners).” You can read up more on our summary of antitrust legislations in the US. CNBC reports that the Senate Judiciary Committee has voted to advance the bill, with the only “no” votes coming from Republican Snators John Cornyn (Texas) and Sen. Thom Tillis (North Carolina). Senator Mike Lee, a Republican senator on the committee representing Utah, supported the bill after previously voting against an earlier version.
The passage of the Open App Markets Act out of the Senate Judiciary committee brings us one step closer to having this legislation signed into law. This bill will let people download apps directly from outside companies rather than being forced to go through official app stores.
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) February 3, 2022
The bill now awaits a full vote by the United States Senate, which is currently split 50/50 between the Democratic Party and Republican Party — regulating large tech companies is one of the few topics both groups can agree on right now, and the bill already has bipartisan support, so it could very well make it through that stage. After that, it would have to pass the House of Representatives, then would land on President Biden’s desk to sign.