Apple using 'aggressive' lobbying to fight off App Store prohibitive legislation in several states4
Apple has been very actively lobbying against prohibitive App Store legislation in the US
Several US states have proposed legislation recently that more or less goes against Apple's App Store policies. Understandably, bills differ from state to state, but many lawmakers are convinced that there should be a removal of the restrictions Apple has against third-party payment systems. Additionally, lawmakers criticize the App Store's commission structure.
Apple did not just stand by. According to documents reviewed by watchdog group Campaign for Accountability and its offshoot organization, Tech Transparency Project, Apple has applied "aggressive" lobbying tactics in Arizona, Georgia, North Dakota, and several other states where the proposed legislation was endangering the App Store policy.
One of the important points in the document is related to bills proposed in the state of Arizona. In February, SB1642 and HB2005 were focused on allowing third-party app developers access to in-app payment systems, a change that was challenged by Apple, as well as by Google.
According to the document, Apple lobbyist Stuart Goodman has pressed Republicans on the matter together with right-wing groups. When the legislation was being considered, the lobbyist sent letters from Michael Bowman, president of the Americal Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform to the chairmen of the Arizona House Commerce Committee.
The letters contained the warning that the proposed legislation will be a government overreach and could prove to be harmful to customers.
The letter from ALEC was initially sent to lawmakers in North Dakota. In February, the state's lawmakers rejected a similar bill, which at the time was drafted by an Epic Games lobbyist as a part of the dispute against the 'Apple Tax'. The same letter was also sent to Florida by an Apple lobbyist, although there was no App Store legislation for voting in the state.
Arizona did not vote on the HB2005 amendment in March, declining to vote and putting it on pause after intense lobbying.
On the other hand, in Georgia, an Apple lobbyist sent a letter to the states' attorney general. The letter addressed concerns about whether two bills that would force Apple to allow third-party app stores on iPhones and iPads were constitutional. The aforementioned bills also targeted first-party payment systems.
After that, these two bills in Georgia failed to advance.
Profound scrutiny looms over Apple's head because of the App Store
The App Store and the 30% fee it is taking on purchases from the App Store have been under scrutiny this year, with the main party that was initially challenging them was game maker Epic Games. Back in the summer of last year, Epic Games tweaked the code of the game Fortnite to include a link to a direct payment in an attempt to bypass Apple's 30% fee on purchases.
As the change was going against Apple's App Store guidelines, the Fortnite game was removed from the App Store, and then, the developer account of its maker was frozen as well. Epic did not concede though and went on to file a full-blown antitrust lawsuit case against Apple in August of 2020. The lawsuit is still ongoing, and there is also one in the UK and Australia.
Besides that, Apple and Google have been under scrutiny from antitrust commissions in the European Union, for the monopoly both tech giants have and their alleged anti-competitive behavior.