Legislation forcing Apple to allow iOS sideloading moves through US Senate committee

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Despite Apple’s intense lobbying efforts, the Open App Markets Act has officially passed out of the Senate Judiciary committee today. The advancement of the Open Markets Act out of committee comes after the committee passed the American Choice and Innovation Online Act just two weeks ago.

The Open App Markets Act was passed by the Senate Judiciary committee almost unanimously, with 20 votes in favor of it and one against it. The one senator who voted against the bill was John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas.

Some of the senators on the committee noted that they were voting in favor of the legislation despite concerns about its current implementation details. Senator Mike Lee from Utah, for example, said that he hopes to make further amendments to the bill as the process continues. The bill is sponsored by senators Richard Blumenthal and Marsha Blackburn.

Under the bill as its worded today, app stores with more than 50 million users in the United States would not be allowed to force developers to use the platform’s payment system. Companies would also not be allowed to punish developers for offering apps through other platforms and different price points, and it would give developers the ability to communicate directly with their users.

The legislation would also open the iPhone up to side loading for the first time. Senator Blackburn touted that the bill would “let people download apps directly from outside companies rather than being forced to go through official app stores.”

The Open App Markets Act is not as wide-ranging as the American Choice and Innovation Online Act that was moved out of committee earlier this year. Nonetheless, Apple has strongly voiced its opposition to the proposed changes. In a letter sent to lawmakers yesterday, Apple’s head of government affairs, Tim Powderly, said that the company is “deeply concerned that the legislation, unless amended, would make it easier for big social media platforms to avoid the pro-consumer practices of Apple’s App Store.”

Now that the Open App Markets Act has been approved by the committee, it will be put on the calendar to be voted on, debated, or amended on the senate floor. While the Open App Markets Act has moved out of committee, it’s still a ways away from being implemented and is likely to go through multiple additional rounds of changes.

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