Apple CEO Tim Cook warns that proposed antitrust legislation would make iPhones less safe

Apple CEO Tim Cook on Tuesday warned that proposed antitrust legislation in the U.S. and the E.U. would have the unintended consequence of making iPhones less safe, putting users at risk.

EFF: Apple's photo scanning backdoor is a shocking privacy and security about-face

Tim Higgins for The Wall Street Journal:

Legislation in both jurisdictions would force Apple to allow third-party programs to be downloaded onto the iPhone outside of the company’s App Store, where it currently regulates the offerings and charges a commission as much as 30% from in-app purchases. Apple has said this change would hurt user security and privacy.

“Taking away a more secure option will leave users with less choice — not more,” Mr. Cook said Tuesday during a speech at the International Association of Privacy Professionals’ summit in Washington, D.C. “And when companies decide to leave the App Store because they want to exploit user data, it could put significant pressure on people to engage with alternate app stores — app stores where their privacy and security may not be protected.”

In Europe, the Digital Markets Act is moving toward final approval, while pieces of legislation in Congress are being considered and are far from becoming law.

“Apple believes in competition,” Mr. Cook said. “But if we are forced to let unvetted apps on to iPhone, the unintended consequences will be profound and when we see that we feel an obligation to speak up and ask policy makers to work with us to advance goals that I truly believe we share without undermining privacy in the process.”

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote last month:

If developers to use the App Store without using Apple’s payment systems, then they should be charged to use Apple’s App Store when conducting in-app commerce. Period.

Removing the requirement to use Apple’s payment system in apps removes much of the incentive for Apple to operate and maintain such an expensive operation as the App Store, which supports 1+ billion users. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Are, for example, Best Buy and Target forced by law to place signs next to each product that advertise lower prices for the same items at Walmart? No, because that would be ludicrous.

If Apple is forced by the DMA or any other legislation to allow developers to advertise lower prices in their apps which are distributed via Apple’s App Store, Apple should release the “In-App Advertising” API to track and charge an in-store advertising fee on any app that nets a sale or subscription via the advertisement of lower prices outside the App Store. We suggest Apple’s rate be 15% for developers making under $1 million per year and 30% for those making $1 million or more annually (exactly what they are now).

Regarding sideloading, as we wrote back in November 2021:

Apple allows sideloading apps on the Mac, yet the company routinely touts how much more secure the Mac is versus Windows PCs, so, logically, it follows that if the Digital Markets Act were enacted, Apple could apply the same third-party app certification to iOS and iPadOS as they do for macOS and still offer a markedly safer experience than the toxic hellstew provided by Android phones and tablets.

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  1. If Apple can promise superior security on a Mac, there is no reason they cannot accomplish the same on iOS with a more competitive open app market. Cook’s protests on this matter are disingenuous. He’s busy trying to protect Apple’s low-effort, high-yield cash machine which can only exist when the gorilla holds dominant power over everyone else. Bravo for Congress — after 12 years of inaction – to finally address the anticompetitive power that Big Tech has taken to distort markets to their will. Apple can afford to open up to real competition.

  2. No he’s not. He’s trying to protect users computer experience and privacy. You sound like you either don’t use a Mac (or are a newbie) and don’t appreciate how well this has worked for the overall user experience – carried over to iOS.

    1. Dear Eddy,

      I’ve been using Macs since 1996. Should we assume you also have experience with System 7 and all later Mac operating systems?

      It sounds like you don’t appreciate how superior the open & secure Mac platform is compared to the closed (and no more secure) iOS platform for application development and sales. The Mac has always provided a better experience for 3rd party developers, coders, and users.

      The people who think Apple’s monopoly position on the iOS app store is superior are people who have no experience writing software, selling software, serving customers, or managing their own computers. Hey, if you need Apple to curate your life, nobody’s stopping you. Some of us prefer the freedom of the open Mac platform.

      Let’s say you are a coder and want to write some software for your own personal use. Good luck on iOS or its derivatives. To write and execute software on your own personal device, you need a Mac.

      Let’s say you want to develop & sell software. Maybe you think you’ll make more money on the larger iOS user base. But with the Mac, you have infinitely more distribution choices, advertising options, and pricing flexibility. Getting one’s app noticed on any of Apple’s stores is difficult, especially for new developers. Apple does a poor job assisting the end user to compare apps before purchase. Apple does little to nothing to allow the developer to demonstrate why his more expensive software is a better value than the hundreds of cheap trash titles. There’s nothing more disheartening than wading through juvenile reviews that are often out of date and not much more reliable than the corrupt Amazon review system as you try to improve your software. As a Mac developer, we can directly host app try-before-buy experiences to prospective customers, directly offer app bundles promotions ourselves or through alternate stores. We can easily release betaware to select trusted users before general release. We can advertise and promote our software outside Apple’s store, where it will actually be seen by potential PC switchers, and we can collaborate with other software developers – sharing costs & profits without Apple in the way. We can sell multilingual software internationally without Apple store complications. We can choose how and when to remove support for our old software titles, and we allow users to easily step back to prior releases if they prefer them. With the Mac, we can offer optional add ons (like new language packs) direct to the user without Apple demanding a cut.

      As a user, I detest the iOS “in-app purchase” gamesmanship and subscription pushes, the poor search capabilities in the iOS store, and the constant nagging to upgrade without actually explaining what changes are to be implemented (we offer complete release notes for our Mac software). Most iOS apps are an inconsistent mess with regard to GUI, preferences, and privacy/tracking disclosures & control. Mac apps, for the most part, are more consistent although frankly Apple’s interface guidelines haven’t been well enforced since iOS became the main focus for revenue. The 3rd party security utilities for the Mac are much more comprehensive than anything offered for iOS, because Apple won’t allow intelligent user-controlled firewalls, script blocking, etc on iOS. Our software on the Mac works whether you are connected to the internet or not, it doesn’t need to ping a dozen ad sellers and trackers in order to operate. We’re not in business to track you and sell your marketing profile. Apple, especially on iOS, wants constant monitoring: what apps you use, your location, everything you click. On iOS, you can’t turn off that data going to Apple. They claim to anonymize it but that’s a smokescreen that is easy to penetrate if anyone wanted to. Some users think iOS is safe and easy but wake up — it’s not a personal computer. Apple doesn’t give away anything for free. Every time you use Maps or any free iOS app, you’re the product. Enjoy your benevolent overlord while he stays benevolent. Just don’t delude yourself into thinking Apple will take any legal responsibility for protecting you. At least with the Mac, you have options.

  3. Greedy Fellow.
    The truth about security is there ws a time when Apple’s closed system was the safest, but that day is no more. In fact, anyone who gets in the system can knock out all users, whereas with a custom windows set-up, there are many additional safeguards available..
    Part of that came from their massive influence on Application Developers, an influence that correspondingly justified their cut of 30% off the top of all app sales.
    But apps have come along way, and Apple has not contributed to their progress. Forced to either develop for Android or Apple, the puirity of innovation has been stifled and over-duplicated, hence the need for antitrust regulation.
    Argue all you want that Apple has great security that justifies the compression & sweatshop profits of new applications, at the end of the day it’s about an insanely rich company pontificating righteousness that is disconnected from the subject at hand, which is that 15-30% kickback that will be sopped.

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