Tim Cook cautions against antitrust legislation

Paul Sakuma / Associated Press

Apple CEO Tim Cook warned in a speech at a Washington, D.C., conference Tuesday that antitrust legislation aimed at lessening the monopoly power of app stores could harm users.

“We are deeply concerned about regulations that would undermine privacy and security in service of some other aim,” Cook said at the IAPP Global Privacy Summit.

“Here in Washington and elsewhere, policymakers are taking steps in the name of competition that would force Apple to let apps on the iPhone that circumvent the app store through a process called ‘sideloading,’ ” he continued.

Apple has pushed back against letting iPhone users download products from third parties, or sideloading, in white papers and letters to Congress.

The company warns that doing so would open up users to spyware or malware infections.

“[Sideloading] means data-hungry companies would be able to avoid our privacy rules and once again track our users against their will,” Cook said Tuesday. “It would also potentially give bad actors away around the comprehensive security protections we put in place, putting them in direct contact with our users.”

Proponents of legislation to force Apple to allow sideloading both in Washington and Europe argue that the company’s tight control over its app store gives it a stranglehold over developers that it can exploit to charge exorbitant fees.

The bipartisan Open App Markets Act would enshrine the right to sideload and block Apple as well as Google from requiring developers to use their payment tools. The bill was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year but has yet to get a vote on the floor.

“Apple believes in competition,” Cook noted. “But if we are forced to lead unvetted apps on the iPhone, the unintended consequences will be profound.”

Cook on Tuesday also discussed the need for a federal privacy law in the U.S. The effort to pass such legislation has stretched for several years amid partisan disagreements over scope and enforcement.

Tags Apple Open Apps Market Act Tim Cook Tim Cook

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