The Open App Markets Act is responding to a real problem which is that Google and Apple have created walled gardens by connecting their OS to app stores and then controlling the app stores.
For conservatives, the practical impact of that arrived when Google and Apple pulled Parler’s app to silence conservatives.
The Open App Markets Act is bipartisan and no one expects Senator Dick Blumenthal and Klobuchar to intervene over conservative censorship so the OAMA begins by focusing on Epic’s demand that apps shouldn’t have to use Google or Apple’s in-app payment system.
Epic, the market of Fortnite, a game, has spent a lot of time suing Apple over this. It’s also spent a good deal of money lobbying on this issue. It’s a reasonable enough argument, though it would open the door to assorted ripoffs and security problems that would likely strengthen Big Tech’s hand.
More importantly, it makes it illegal to punish app makers for offering the same products cheaply elsewhere.
Big Tech monopolies have used terms like this to maintain their dominance by setting the price floor for products so that they can’t be undersold.
The next section, banning Google and Apple from interfering with “user communications” from the app maker seems like a license to spam.
Third, OAMA bans Google and Apple from using information about sales and users from their app store to build their own rival apps.
This is a major issue within Big Tech, but again it’s a fairly special interest provision.
The bill also bans Apple or Google from favoring their own apps in rankings.
But the big show is a mandate that Apple and Google allow third-party app stores on their platforms. This would break the Google/Apple app store monopoly. It would have prevented the Parler shutdown.
INTEROPERABILITY.—A Covered Company that controls the operating system or operating system configuration on which its App Store operates shall allow and provide the readily accessible means for users of that operating system to (1) choose third-party Apps or App Stores as defaults for categories appropriate to the App or App Store; (2) install third-party Apps or App Stores through means other than its App Store; and (3) hide or delete Apps or App Stores provided or preinstalled by the App Store owner or any of its 20 business partners
If this were to become law and survive court challenges, this would be an earthquake that would shatter Apple/Google’s business model and control over their mobile OS ecosystems which would finally open up and look more like Windows instead of a digital gulag.
Considering how much cash Apple and Google have to throw at the problem, and how much politicians in both parties love money, I’m skeptical that this will happen. But each shot taken puts Big Tech on the defensive and opens the Overton Window that much further.