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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Apple warned Wednesday that new antitrust legislation would place iPhone customers' privacy and security at risk by limiting the company's control over what apps users can install.

Driving the news: Apple CEO Tim Cook called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats to argue that the antitrust bills would hurt innovation and consumers, per a New York Times report.

The big picture: Tech companies are focusing on potential privacy pitfalls as they seek to sink antitrust proposals being taken up Wednesday by the House Judiciary Committee.

What's new: In a paper released Wednesday, Apple argues that the App Store protects consumers from malicious or scammy apps.

  • Apple fears pending bills would force allowing third-party app stores and sideloading — letting users download apps on their phones without going through the App Store, something that is the norm on PCs and Macs but less common on phones.
  • Apple's paper, "Building a Trusted Ecosystem for Millions of Apps," uses a cartoon fox to warn that sideloading could make children's data vulnerable or allow a ransomware attack.

What they're saying: Tech companies are seizing on what they argue are the privacy implications of the bills, with Google warning earlier this week they "raise serious privacy and security concerns."

  • Facebook argued antitrust laws should not punish successful companies in a statement ahead of the hearing.
  • Congress ought to "tackle the areas of greatest concern to people, like content moderation, election integrity, and privacy — not attempt to dismantle the products and services people depend on," a Facebook spokesperson said. "These bills underestimate the unrelenting competition within the tech sector, including competition from foreign companies such as TikTok, WeChat, and Alibaba."
  • Amazon argued the bills would hurt sellers and customers and that the committee was moving too quickly.

The other side: Charlotte Slaiman, competition policy director at advocacy group Public Knowledge, said the legislation includes restrictions on how data can be used, even as one bill would require companies to allow users to take their data to different platforms.

  • "We're still going to need comprehensive federal privacy legislation that really protects users' privacy, even if these bills become law," Slaiman told Axios.
  • A senior Democratic aide said there are bipartisan expectations for the bills to pass both the committee and the House.
  • The aide also disputed the charge that the process was rushed, citing the committee's ten hearings on antitrust in the course of its investigation.

Go deeper

Jun 22, 2021 - Technology

Exclusive: Google's salvo against antitrust bills

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Google says the House's new antitrust bills would hurt U.S. tech leadership, "damage the way small businesses connect with consumers, and raise serious privacy and security concerns," in a statement shared exclusively with Axios.

Driving the news: The House Judiciary committee plans to mark up the new package of antitrust bills Wednesday. Their provisions would have wide-ranging consequences for how Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon operate.

Jun 21, 2021 - Technology

Exclusive: Industry groups line up against tech antitrust bills

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Thirteen tech and free-market groups oppose new bipartisan antitrust bills from the House Judiciary committee, the groups write in a letter Monday, exclusively shared with Axios.

Why it matters: The pushback shows that the industry is gearing up for a fight against the 5 proposed new laws.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Jun 22, 2021 - Technology

Lessons for Facebook, Google in Windows' decline

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios.

The government's attempt 20 years ago to split up Microsoft failed, and sanctions didn't break its hold on the desktop, but many of Windows' current challenges stem from how the company reacted to its years of fighting regulators around the world.

Why it matters: Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple all face threats from regulators. Even if the companies win those conflicts, just fighting the battle can put them at a disadvantage.

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