Apple argues new North Dakota Senate bill targeting the App Store could ‘destroy the iPhone’

A new bill in the North Dakota Senate could force Apple to allow iPhone owners to sideload applications and use alternative payment systems in-app. The wide-reaching bill would bar companies like Apple and Google from mandating that developers only use their app stores and payments systems.

As explained by The Bismarck Tribune (via The Verge), the bill lays out three restrictions for so-called “digital application distribution platforms.” The language is clearly targeted directly at Apple and its various App Store policies. The bill says that these platforms can’t:

  • “Require a developer to use a digital application distribution platform or digital transaction platform as the exclusive mode of distributing a digital product.”
  • “Require a developer to use an in-application payment system as the exclusive mode of accepting payment from a user to download a software application or purchase a digital or physical product through a software application.”
  • “Retaliate against a developer for choosing to use an alternative application store or in-application payment system.”

Apple has already testified against the bill, with privacy software manager Erik Neuenschwander saying such this combination of restrictions “threatens to destroy the iPhone as you know it” and “undermine the privacy, security, safety, and performance that’s built into iPhone by design.”

Neuenschwander also added that the bill would “require” Apple to allow bad apps in the App Store, despite the fact that the company “works hard to keep” them out.

But what’s important to keep in mind is that this is only a state bill and would only affect the App Store’s business in North Dakota. That being said, it could set precedent for other states to introduce similar bills — or it could serve as the backbone for similar legislation on a federal level.

Vocal Apple critic and Basecamp co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson testified in favor of the bill and wrote on Twitter that this represents the “first real, concrete legislative proposal I’ve seen that actually gives me hope that tech monopolies aren’t going to rule the world forever.”

Ultimately, chairman Sen. Jerry Klein said during the hearing that there is still work to be done on the bill, and no action will be taken yet.

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