House members release companion bill targeting app stores

House members release companion bill targeting app stores
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A bipartisan group of House lawmakers introduced a bill Friday aimed at increasing competition in the app market. 

The Open App Markets Act would seek to limit the dominance of Apple's and Google’s app stores by blocking them from self-preferencing their own products and allowing users to download tools from third-party stores.

It would also end requirements that app developers use payment systems run by the stores, a major source of criticism from smaller firms in the space.

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The legislation was released as a companion to a bill proposed in the Senate earlier this week.

The House version of the bill was introduced by House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee ranking member Ken BuckKenneth (Ken) Robert BuckHillicon Valley —Apple is not a monopoly, judge rules Judge rules Apple is not 'illegal monopolist' in high-profile Epic case Lawmakers flooded with calls for help on Afghanistan exit MORE (R-Colo.) and Rep. Hank JohnsonHenry (Hank) C. JohnsonDraft Georgia congressional lines target McBath, shore up Bourdeaux Overnight Defense & National Security — Iron Dome funding clears House Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Defense bill takes center stage MORE (D-Ga.). Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharOn The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Schumer, McConnell headed for another collision over voting rights Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves MORE (D-Minn.) and Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnButtigieg hits back after parental leave criticism: 'Really strange' Senate approves short-term debt ceiling increase Hillicon Valley — Presented by American Edge Project — Facebook experiences widespread outage MORE (R-Tenn.) are behind the upper chamber’s version.

“For far too long, companies like Google and Apple have had a stranglehold on app developers who are forced to take whatever terms these monopolists set in order to reach their customers,” Buck said in a statement.

Google's and Apple's positions in the app market have come under increasing scrutiny since Apple kicked Epic Games’s Fortnite off its store for setting up its own in-app payment system to avoid the Silicon Valley giant’s 30 percent commission fees. 

Several other developers have testified before Congress about the weight of those fees and the threats of removal they face from Apple and Google.

The Coalition for App Fairness, a group of game and app developers, praised the bill’s introduction in the House on Friday.

"With bipartisan legislation in both chambers of Congress, and growing momentum around the world, now is the time to hold app store gatekeepers, like Apple, accountable for their anticompetitive practice that harm consumers and developers,” Meghan DiMuzio, the group’s executive director, said in a statement. “We urge the House and Senate to consider this legislation as soon as possible."