Apple provokes bipartisan ire for skipping U.S. Senate App Store hearing

According to a letter addressed to Apple CEO Tim Cook from Democrat Amy Klobuchar and Mike Lee, a Republican, Apple is refusing to participate in an upcoming Senate App Store hearing about anti-competitive practices.

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook

Anna Edgerton and Mark Gurman for Bloomberg:

The letter says the Cupertino, California-based company declined to send a witness for an upcoming hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel to examine allegations of anticompetitive treatment of outside app developers.

Google has agreed to provide a witness for the hearing, but hasn’t said who, according to a person familiar with the matter.

MacDailyNews Take: Provoking bipartisan ire is probably not the greatest idea.

Here’s the April 9, 2021 letter, verbatim:

Dear Mr. Cook:

We write regarding Apple Inc.’s refusal to provide a witness to testify in a timely manner before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights at a hearing to examine the competition issues raised by app stores.

More than half of internet traffic comes through mobile phones, whose users rely on mobile applications to access online content and services—and the vast majority of mobile apps are downloaded from either Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store. Apple’s power over the cost, distribution, and availability of mobile applications on the Apple devices used by millions of consumers raises serious competition issues that are of interest to the Subcommittee, consumers, and app developers. A full and fair examination of these issues before the Subcommittee requires Apple’s participation.

Apple has been aware for weeks that the Subcommittee was planning a hearing on this topic and was engaged in discussions with our staff regarding who would testify on Apple’s behalf. Yet a little more than two weeks [16 days] before the planned hearing, Apple abruptly declared that it would not provide any witness to testify at a hearing in April.

Earlier this year, Apple provided witnesses to testify before the North Dakota Senate and the Arizona House of Representatives to oppose state bills that would regulate the very same conduct that the Subcommittee intends to explore. You testified before the House Antitrust Subcommittee regarding these same issues last year. And on the exact day Apple informed the Subcommittee that it would not provide a witness for an April hearing, the New York Times released a podcast interview in which you discuss competition issues relating to Apple’s App Store, including Apple’s pending litigation with Epic Games.*

Finally, your staff has noted ongoing litigation as the reason for not providing a witness this month. Many other representatives of companies, both inside and outside of the technology sector, have testified before Congress in similar circumstances, and your staff was aware of the ongoing litigation when they were initially working with us to provide a witness. Apple’s sudden change in course to refuse to provide a witness to testify before the Subcommittee on app store competition issues in April, when the company is clearly willing to discuss them in other public forums, is unacceptable.

We strongly urge Apple to reconsider its position and to provide a witness to testify before the Subcommittee in a timely manner.

Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter.


Amy Klobuchar, Chair Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights

Mike Lee, Ranking Member Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights

*Kara Swisher, “Sway” podcast, “Apple’s C.E.O. Is Making Very Different Choices From Mark Zuckerberg,” (Apr. 5, 2021), available at choices-from-mark-zuckerberg.html.


  1. Good on Cook!

    Those hearings are nothing but political theater. All the politicians just try to make themselves look high and mighty while yelling at the people who testify. They never give anyone time to answer the questions and repeatedly interrupt them.

    More CEOs should show some balls and refuse to attend.

    1. Yes, another diversion from the real issues.

      Of course Congress should be able to walk and chew gum at the time but they can’t even walk, let alone figure out how to unwrap the gum…

      1. Don’t you want to know why Parlor was shut down for doing things that other Apps do and were not shut down? Why would that be? Do you want to live in a world where somebody else that you don’t even know, decides what you can and cannot see?

        Are you so weak minded that you believe that other people that you don’t even know are better suited than you to decide what you can see?

        This is a real question. I can’t understand why someone who has an iPhone in their pocket is OK with an “invisible man” having absolute power to censor and control what they can see and why anyone would support their right to not show up and and be secretive about the strings they are pulling in YOUR life.

        Forget politics. Isn’t this important?

        Do you want to live in a world where invisible people have absolute power to control what you can see and read while you defend their reason to not show up so you can ask them why?

        If you are OK with not even asking the question, then we are heading for a dystopian society which will not be brought on by the “evil masters” but by the ignorance of the people.

        If this is who we are and allow this to happen us, then we are about to get what we deserve.

        1. I am not saying that the Congress doesn’t push their narrative at every opportunity they can, all I am saying is “we the people” need to know and this is the ONLY place where Apple can be compelled to answer.

          He obviously hasn’t sent a letter out to all his iPhone, iPad users explaining his actions. I wonder why?

          As people who are subjected to an Apple App Store Monopoly for “our own good” don’t we deserve an explanation why an App is banned, not because they violated any App Store Technical Policy but because Apple didn’t agree with what Parlor users had to say. Parlor violated no law and there was no injunction nor cease and desist order against them. What gives Apple the right to step in and “write their own laws”?

          I think the rules should be simple. According to the constitution we have freedom of speech and that right should not be violated by anyone. If somebody on Parlor was doing something illegal, then it is up to Law Enforcement to deal with this problem not Apple. Tech companies are not a new branch of Government.

        2. I agree that we need answers, but going in from of those jackasses are not going to give us any answers.

          This article isn’t about censorship, it’s about Cook choosing to not go in front of congress.

        3. Yes, the article is about Cook choosing not to go, but the reason is because he knows they are going to ask him about censorship and apparently he doesn’t have a good answer, which is a scary thought.

          And I agree, answering questions of Congress who are more interested in not listening, and using ever word or phrase to advance some agenda (on both sides) is not ideal, but do you have a better idea. We can got no explanation or some explanation littered with painful narratives spouted out by congressmen’s agendas.

          This is the best we can do.

        4. Apple has explained the Parler decision. Repeatedly.

          You do not believe them or disagree. There is no reason to believe that Tim Cook, or any other Apple official, is going to provide a different answer, no matter how many times the question is asked by you, Congress, or anybody else.

        5. “Yes, the article is about Cook choosing not to go, but the reason is because he knows they are going to ask him about censorship and apparently he doesn’t have a good answer, which is a scary thought.”

          Now you’re just making things up. No one other than Tim Cook knows why he decided not to go.

        6. Yes Cook has answered the the question why HE did what he did, but he has not answered what legal authority he has to assume Apple to be a new branch of government with censorship capabilities.

          If something was done that is illegal Apple must do what everyone else does and report it to the police and let the courts decide. If Parlor is in fact doing something illegal, they should be shut down, if someone ON Parlor is doing something illegal they should be shut down, not Parlor.

          Apple has no authority to enhance and enforce our laws. The real question should be under what authority to you even have the right to decide and appoint yourself a new court system in a new branch of government.

          This is not Apple’s job.

        7. Confused,
          If someone walked into a retail establishment and started shouting curses that upset the other customers, would you question the store’s legal authority to ban the offender? If somebody asked to rent your church so that they and their coreligionists could sacrifice a goat to Satan, would you question the pastor’s legal authority to say no?

          Apple never, ever described the App Store as a common carrier with a legal duty to accept every app offered. Steve Jobs made it clear at the Store’s inception that there would be strict rules for admission that would be strictly enforced. That has not changed.

          This is still a free country where the owners of property get to control it. It is not a dictatorship where The government gets to decide how to interpret a private corporation’s internal guidelines.

        8. TxUseless and Cook apologist tell the truth for a change and spare us your well known DEFLECTION.

          Cook danced around the question by offering the typical political tactic – non-answer, answer just another political shill.

          He did not answer directly why Apple banned Parlar and censored conservative speech, same as his Leftist buddies in Silicon Valley Big Tech doing exactly the same, while still allowing extremist Leftist hate speech on many apps to flourish. That is classic HYPOCRISY, not a straight answer only his supporters love.

          Hiding behind a vague catch all phrase “violates terms of service” could mean anything and you know it. Cook and Big Tech are allowed to DISCRIMINATE and CENSOR conservative posts and opinions that do not kowtow to Democrats. They enjoy special legal protections like no other businesses under Section 230.

          One of most egregious was taking down the Hunter Biden laptop story by The New York Post around Election time. Polls later said if the information was widely known on social and regular media over 30% could have switched their votes to Trump.

          Dishonest Democrats stacking the deck mission accomplished and have not read one word you have a problem with any of it. Despicable!…

        9. “Don’t you want to know why Parlor was shut down for doing things that other Apps do and were not shut down?”
          Everyone already knows. They were a LITTLE too comfortable with white supremacists and nazis on their site and failed to check to see if their infrastructure partners were also ok with white supremacy and nazis.

          Now that Parler are aligned with infrastructure partners that are AOK with white supremacists and nazis, they’re back. It’s pretty simple really. The real question, I guess is “If many Americans are good with white supremacy and nazis (commonly referred to as “the baddies”), why aren’t more American COMPANIES good with white supremacists and nazis?”

        10. Nazis and white supremacist? Really?
          Do you see these things everywhere you look?

          I’ve been a Southern White Conservative almost 45 years and my experience with what’s left of the Klan is mainly older Democrats and younger white trash. No one takes them seriously.

          The only other group of people just as racist I have encountered frequently are Black men 20-40 who blame anything they can for their failures except themselves (of course they have been coached all their lives to do this sooo…)

          And as far as Nazis, the only group that comes even CLOSE are young white liberals (with a sprinkling of Asians and BLM members).

          So I would be surprised to see any of these groups having much sway on an app like Parlor. Not saying there aren’t a lot of fucking idiots on there, but I see them on all the forums and social media.

          Your post is proof.

      2. TXUSER,

        Yes, you just made my point. You have a right to throw the “offender” out, but not Parlor.

        Just because I am an Uber driver and gave a man a ride to the store and he started shouting, does not mean they have a right to ban me from the store. Right?

        Can you see the difference ?

        1. If you kept bringing the man to the store repeatedly after being asked not to do so, then yes I think the store has an absolute right to decline doing business with you. It might encourage other Uber drivers to consider the consequences of their similar conduct. The store need not have specific legal authority to treat one customer differently than another (so long as the disparate treatment does not target a protected class, like African-Americans, immigrants, or women).

        2. I disagree. A court would never rule that the Uber driver should somehow be punished nor responsible for the actions of a passenger. If the passenger did something illegal then that person should be punished.

          It is a slippery slope when non-government tech companies start assuming the power and authority of governments.

  2. The klobuchur’s (sp) and her ilk in the hearing don’t understand technology. Yet they want to make important decisions having little knowledge. No wonder Apple puts hands up in the air and says, “Go ahead do it without us….Apples’ attendance isn’t going to change anything they already haven’t made their mind up about”.

      1. No. It’s about technology commerce you stupid fucking idiot. How do I know you are a stupid fucking idiot? Well, it’s obvious. Too obvious. Just look at all the bullshit you write day in day out. Who does this? You think you have to shit on every comment that’s is in the slightest pro Apple. You are mad. It’s obvious.

        Go on….fume away with your bullshit. Wast your life away hating on Apple. You deserve nothing less.

      2. and we all know that commerce and technology never ever intersect.

        Don’t pay me in bitcoin(s) cause my swim trunks have no pockets.

    1. “they want to make important decisions having little knowledge”.

      Do you know what they know about technology? How many discussions have you had with them? Since you seem to know the limits of their knowledge tell us. What do they know?

      Questions I have for you?
      1. How much math do they know: Algebra, Geometry, Trig, Calculus?
      2. Have either of them ever taken a programming class? If so what language and how did they do?
      3. How much do they know about internet and networking? (on a scale of 1-10)
      4. Has either of them ever studied Electronics. If so, how much do they know?

      “they want to make important decisions having little knowledge”.

      What areas do they have little knowledge that need improvement.? I think your accurate assessment of their knowledge and skills definitely will be helpful to other voters like me.

      Please be free to share your insights. There are already too many people who believe what they want to believe then project those beliefs on others as if it is true while they themselves have no idea where their own fantasies end and where the real world begins.

      It is refreshing to me that you are not one of those people and you have really good real world reasons for your opinions. You are not the kind of person who would just make up a an imagined fantasy in your own mind, then decide that it is a “fact” and then believe it is true. — then go online confidently spouting your fantasies as if they are fact ! That is not you. You are objective and sensible and have deep reasons to back up your opinions. The world needs more people like you.

      Please share.

  3. Apple and Nanny Cook don’t need to answer to the United States of America because we all are beneath him. Repeat He dose not owe you or the Federal Government a reply or justification.

    But if the CCP asked a similar questions or if the CCP forced apple to take down 29,800 (already approved by apple) apps from the Apple app store for what the CCP says is “sensitive content” you better believe CCP Tim Cook would and did comply.

    Apple/Tim Cook is Fake Woke.

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