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Promoting App Store Competition: Bipartisan Support Grows for the Open App Markets Act

As Apple & Google continue to exercise gatekeeper control of the multi-billion dollar app economy, bipartisan support grows for antitrust legislation to promote competition & boost consumer choice

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Amid building momentum to rein in Big Tech’s anticompetitive practices, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) announced growing bipartisan support for the Open App Markets Act, which would set fair, clear, and enforceable rules to protect competition and strengthen consumer protections within the app market. The legislation, first introduced in August along with Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), was recently co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Two companies, Google and Apple, have gatekeeper control of the two dominant mobile operating systems and their app stores. Google and Apple’s dominance allows them to exclusively dictate the terms of the app market, inhibiting competition and restricting consumer choice. More information on the legislation is available here.

“Apple and Google have reigned over the multi-billion app market for years, restricting consumer choice and squashing competitors,” said Blumenthal. “There is clear, growing bipartisan momentum for the Open App Markets Act to break their ironclad grip, open the app economy to new competitors, and give users more control over their own devices.”

“Big Tech giants are forcing their own app stores on users at the expense of innovative start-ups,” said Blackburn. “My colleagues and I are committed to ensuring U.S. consumers and small businesses are not punished by Big Tech giants like Apple and Google. American consumers should be able to benefit from a competitive app store marketplace and choose the products that suit their needs.”

“Competition is critical to protecting small businesses and consumers and spurring new ideas. But as mobile technologies have become essential to our daily lives, a few gatekeepers controlling the app marketplace have emerged, wielding incredible power over which apps consumers can access,” said Klobuchar. “Since introducing this legislation, it has only become more clear that this raises serious competition concerns. As support for our bill continues to grow, I will keep working to move this legislation forward to ensure an innovative and fair app marketplace.”

“Too often, Big Tech companies exploit their market power to squeeze out competitors, leading to fewer choices and higher prices for American consumers,” said Rubio. “By blocking these companies from abusing their gatekeeper positions, the Open App Markets Act will force long overdue competition into Silicon Valley, provide more options for users, and reduce the control of Big Tech over Americans’ day-to-day lives.”

“I am proud to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this bipartisan legislation,” said Lummis. “For too long, Apple and Google have created walled gardens around their app stores. History has shown time and time again that when a single company, from railroads to phones, has complete control over a closed ecosystem, it stifles innovation and ultimately hurts consumers. This legislation would introduce much-needed competition into these app store ecosystems. I will continue to fight for the people of Wyoming to ensure a free and fair digital marketplace.”

“For years, two tech giants have used their position as gatekeepers to limit the ability of their competitors and tech startups to participate fairly in the mobile app marketplace,” said Booker. “I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan legislation that sets fair rules of the road to hold these dominant tech companies accountable, spurs competition and innovation within the app economy, and strengthens consumer protections.”

“The time has come for these largely unregulated Big Tech giants to either be broken up, regulated, or subject to litigation for their actions,” said Graham. “These companies have an enormous impact on the day-to-day lives of the American people and enjoy protections other industries do not have. Both Democrats and Republicans agree: the time has come for fairness in the app market.”

The Open App Markets Act has also been endorsed by a number of technology and consumer groups, including Consumer Reports, Internet Accountability Project, Public Citizen, Coalition for App Fairness, Color Of Change, News Media Alliance, Public Knowledge, Lincoln Network, Consumer Action for a Strong Economy (CASE), Digital Progress Institute, Electronic Frontier Foundation, American Principles Project, and the American Economic Liberties Project.