Buck of Colorado leads the charge on access issues plaguing mobile app stores


Despite a recent court ruling that could deprive Apple and Google of much of the revenue of rival tech companies and app developers, Colorado Congressman Ken Buck continues to sharpen his antitrust policy against the giants. of Big Tech.

Ken buck

“For too long, companies like Google and Apple have had a stranglehold on app developers who are forced to accept the terms set by these monopolies in order to reach their customers,” Buck said in a press release last month. announcing legislation to open up access and payment options on app stores on mobile devices.

Buck’s bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Democrat Hank Johnson of Georgia, is the House companion of a bill introduced in the Senate by Democrats Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar and Republican Marsha Blackburn.

Buck was a somewhat surprising champion for dismantling Big Tech, forming the Freedom from Big Tech Caucus in July, echoing the frequent but unproven refrain in law that tech companies stifle conservative voices, but attack so harshly. anti-competitive policies.

Apple and Google strictly control which apps are sold on mobile devices and how developers are paid, charging up to 30% “app tax” and preventing developers from signing into other payment options.

But a California U.S. District Court judge recently ruled, in a legal battle between Apple and the maker of Fortnite Epic Games, that Apple must start allowing app developers to include links to other methods of payment. This happened even after Apple offered to relax its restrictions.

Apple, according to the Associated Press, tried to present the court’s decision, which forced Epic Games to reimburse the costs, as a victory, although it is likely to appeal the overall decision.

“We are very happy with the court’s decision and consider this to be a huge victory for Apple,” Kate Adams, general counsel for the company, told AP. “This ruling confirms that Apple’s ‘success is not illegal,’ as the judge said.”

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney denounced the decision in a tweet, swearing to “fight” in another tweet.

And a spokesperson for Buck’s office said the court ruling had no bearing on legislation proposed by the northeast Colorado congressman.

“The matter is still pending before the courts and we anticipate that the recent decision regarding Apple and Epic Games will be appealed; However, we think it’s a step in the right direction, ”Buck’s communications director Nick Givas said in an email.

“The decision does not change the [Open App Markets Act], it also doesn’t change the need to pass Congressman Buck’s legislation, which prohibits a number of anti-competitive practices by big tech companies like Apple, ”Givas added.

A former Weld County Republican attorney, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, and a member of both the original Tea Party and the subsequent Freedom Caucus, Buck may appear to be a free market champion and unlikely anti-trust warrior, but as a prominent member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, Buck has now formed the Freedom from Big Tech Caucus. male, according to Politico, has received campaign funds from some tech companies and app developers in this fight.

Coalition for App Fairness (CAF) executive director Meghan DiMuzio said the Bucks bill, which her organization helped draft, is absolutely still needed despite signs that Apple might be willing to loosen its grip on its App Store.

“The App Fairness Coalition is not appeased by empty gestures and fictitious regulations,” DiMuzio wrote in an emailed statement. “Apple’s latest regulation does nothing to address the fundamental underlying issues that the Open App Markets Act proposes to correct. Dominant platforms still use monopoly practices to stifle innovation and stop competition. We remain committed to ensuring that developers and consumers have access to fair and open digital platforms. “

CAF has not backed down after the recent court ruling either, Tweeter“This lawsuit helped fuel a global push by regulators and lawmakers to end Apple’s monopoly on the App Store and abuse of market power. The number of developers and consumers demanding change is increasing and the fight for #OpenTheAppStore continues. “

CAF’s DiMuzio, in a phone interview, said his organization was reaching out to other Colorado lawmakers, including Big Tech antagonist Joe Neguse, to try to gain additional support for the bill. Neguse, a Democrat from Lafayette who also sits in the House Judicial Subcommittee on Antitrust, is aware of the legislation but has not signed on as a co-sponsor despite calls from voters to join. A spokeswoman for Neguse declined to comment on the legislation.

“Thanks to these integrated payment systems, [Apple and Google] charge exorbitant fees and block communications between developers and their own customers, ”said DiMuzio. “So people like Spotify, Match, others can’t communicate directly with their customers and can’t actually sort through these issues if issues arise, or provide the broader level of customer service that they would like to provide.”

The legislation would allow consumers to install the apps they want on their phones through the app store of their choice, bypassing Apple and Google fees and preinstalled apps, DiMuzio added.

Editor’s Note: A version of this story first appeared on Colorado Times Recorder.

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David O. Williams is an award-winning freelance journalist based in Vail Valley, Colorado, writing on healthcare, immigration, politics, environment, energy, public lands, outdoor recreation and the sports. His work has appeared in 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, Aspen Journalism, Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Colorado Times Recorder, the Daily Trail (Vail), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Gazette, Denver Post, Durango Herald, Eagle Valley Enterprise, Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, Greeley Tribune, Huffington Post, King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, London Daily Mirror, Montgomery Journal (Maryland), New York Times, Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, P owder Magazine, Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, Rocky Mountain News, Atlantic Media’s RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail / Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Valley Magazine, Vail Daily, Vail Trail and Westword (Denver). Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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