Apple pens letter to House Judiciary Committee saying proposed antitrust legislation would ‘create a race to the bottom for privacy’

Ahead of the House Judiciary Committee holding another hearing on antitrust legislation later this morning, Apple has published its full letter explaining how the proposed legislation would undermine the security of the iPhone and App Store. The letter is addressed to Chairmen Nadler and Cicilline, and Ranking Members Jordan and Buck and is signed by Timothy Powderly, Apple’s senior director of government affairs.

In the letter, Apple says that the five pieces of proposed antitrust legislation would “undermine consumers’ ability to choose products that offer state-of-the-art Privacy and Security.” Apple explains that Congress should not mandate that smartphones be “one-size-fits all” and that Apple offers an experience with the iPhone that is “uniquely suited to those who don’t want to balance risk every time they download an app.”

The iPhone is uniquely suited to those who don’t want to balance risk every time they download an app. Some customers might want to do that, but Congress should not force that model on everyone. Legislation that would mandate that Apple allow sideloading would prevent Apple from continuing to offer consumers this more secure choice, reducing competition and decreasing consumer welfare.

Apple goes on to write that the proposed legislation would make it “easier for criminal actors to put iPhone users at risk,” something that comes as cyberattacks are already “on the rise.”

With cyberattacks on the rise, Congress should consider measures to increase, not decrease, digital security. Today, if an app surreptitiously collects user data, Apple is able to take steps to address that behavior—whereas current proposals would tie Apple’s hands. Further, sideloaded apps can carry ransomware, or trick users into downloading fake versions of popular apps that can steal login credentials and spy on users. This legislation will make it easier for criminal actors to put iPhone users at risk.

Apple concludes that it is willing to engage with the House Judiciary Committee going forward on potential legislation, but that the “current proposals would harm consumer privacy, device security, and innovation.”

Lawmakers introduced five bills targeting Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google last week. Among other things, the legislation would significantly affect the App Store and impact Apple’s ability to pre-install applications on iPhones. The goal, according to Democratic Representative David Cicilline, would be to ensure that companies like Apple are “not using their market dominance to favor their own products and services.”

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