App company CEOs urge senators to back antitrust bill

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A coalition of tech executives are urging members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to support a bill aimed at reining in the market power of Apple and Google’s app stores.

CEOs of 20 tech companies, including Spotify, Basecamp and Tile, wrote a letter to the committee members Thursday asking them to back the bipartisan Open Markets Act.

“Fair and open competition is the driving force behind a well-functioning free market. But today, mobile app marketplace gatekeepers use a vice-like grip to control developers and impose terms and conditions that undermine competition, throttle innovation, limit consumer choice, and lead to higher prices,” the CEOs wrote. 

The letter was part of a push by the Coalition for App Fairness, an industry group for app developers. 

The proposal, co-sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), is scheduled for a committee mark up on Tuesday. 

It had been on the committee’s schedule to debate last week, but ultimately was withheld after the senators voted to advance a different antitrust bill, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act. 

App developers have criticized Apple and Google over what they deem to be anticompetitive app store rules. The tech giants have defended their rules, saying they help promote security and safety for consumers. 

The proposal in part would try to remedy the concerns by blocking app stores from requiring developers to use their payment system. It would also enshrine users’ rights to download apps from third-party stores. 

It is the second antitrust bill that Klobuchar, who chairs the antitrust subcommittee, is looking to advance out of the Judiciary panel after successfully moving the American Innovation and Choice Online Act last week.

Despite advancing in a 16-6 vote, the bill faces an uphill battle with some Republicans and Democrats, including California’s two senators. They have voiced concerns that they said would need to be addressed before they approved it in a potential floor vote. 

Similar opposition popped up in the House last year when the committee advanced a raft of bills aimed at revamping antitrust laws. The House bills have yet to be called to a vote since moving out of the committee in June. 

Tags Amy Klobuchar antitrust Antitrust laws Apple Basecamp Google Marsha Blackburn Spotify Tile

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