App store bill sails out of Senate Judiciary Committee
A bill that would upend how Apple and Google run their mobile app stores easily made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Driving the news: Senators on the committee voted to pass the Open App Markets Act 20-2, with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) voting no.
- If the bill passes the full Senate and is signed by President Biden, Google and Apple would essentially have to give up full control of their app stores.
- New rules could require them both to allow app side-loading — installing apps from non-sanctioned marketplaces — and alternative payment processing systems. Apple and Google have argued vehemently against the bill.
- Axios is told Sen. Tillis’ staff made a proxy vote for him in support of the bill, which was later reversed.
Why it matters: The 20-2 vote shows there's increasing support in Congress for the kinds of bills that aim to reel in Big Tech companies.
- It will still be a long haul for this bill to become law, but it's notable that it made it out of committee so easily, garnering the support of many Republicans.
- Another tech antitrust bill, the American Innovation and Competition Act, made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 16-6 vote last month.
What they're saying: A number of senators proposed amendments to the bill and suggested it needed more work.
- Cornyn said he was worried about the bill allowing for cybersecurity risks and malware.
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a co-author of the bill along with Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), dismissed tech company claims that the bill would cause privacy and security problems.
- Blumenthal said tech companies "own the rails," comparing them to railroad monopolists from the past. "Gatekeeper dominance allows them to dictate the terms of the market."
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the changed vote from Sen. Thom Tillis.