Apple in the crosshairs of draft antitrust laws that could force big changes

iPhone event
iPhone event (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • House Democrats are reportedly circulating draft legislation that could have a big impact on Apple's business.
  • Five draft laws cover issues such as monopolies, competition, mergers and acquisitions, and more.
  • It is not clear if the bills have bipartisan support.

Multiple reports indicate that House Democrats are circulating draft antitrust legislation that could have a big impact on the way companies like Apple do business and the user experience on devices like the iPhone 12 and Apple's App Store.

First noted by Axios, the bills "address interoperability, self-preferencing a company's own services and features, an update to merger fees and more money for the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice, limiting Big Tech acquisitions and separating platforms from sellers."

More details provided by CNBC note that one bill "could raise the fees companies pay to notify the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice Antitrust Division of large mergers with the goal of raising money for those agencies."

A further four are detailed as follows:

  • Ending Platform Monopolies Act - This would reportedly "make it unlawful for a platform with at least 500,000 monthly active U.S. users and a market cap over $600 billion to own or operate a business that presents a clear conflict of interest" - the report notes how Apple runs platforms but also compete with some services on those platforms (think Apple Music vs Spotify)
  • Platform Competition and Opportunity Act - this would shift the burden of proof to the dominant platform in mergers and acquisitions, with companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google forced to prove their acquisitions are lawful, rather than the government having to prove the opposite.
  • Platform Anti-Monopoly Act - This would stop platforms giving preferential treatment to their own products and services over competitors, and would also ban platforms using data collected on their services that isn't available to other competing services
  • Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act - this would mandate data portability and interoperability, making it easier to switch from one ecosystem to another, for instance switching from iOS to Android.

As the report notes these are draft laws that could undergo big changes prior to their introduction. It is not clear whether the bills have bipartisan support, but Axios notes these bills "generally reflects ideas committee leaders have discussed in hearings and include areas where Democrats and Republicans on the committee have said they can find agreement."

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9