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Apple says App Store bill would result in 'malware and scams' on the iPhone

App Store
App Store (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple is urging the U.S. Senate to reject a new bill that would allow sideloading on the iPhone.
  • Apple says the bill would "allow malware, scams and data-exploitation to proliferate" on its devices.

Apple is urging lawmakers to reject an antitrust bill that would allow sideloading on the iPhone.

As reported by Bloomberg, the company sent a letter to members of a U.S. Senate committee who were considering the bill on Thursday, saying that such a bill, if passed, would "harm user security and privacy, create expansive liability exposure and legal uncertainty, and would deny consumer choice."

Tim Powderly, Apple's head of government affairs in the Americas, wrote that, if the bill was passed by congress, it would result in "malware, scams and data-exploitation to proliferate" on the iPhone and iPad.

"We are 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, and allow them to continue business as usual," Tim Powderly, the company's head of government affairs in the Americas, wrote in the letter."Sideloading would enable bad actors to evade Apple's privacy and security protections by distributing apps without critical privacy and security checks," he said. "These provisions would allow malware, scams and data-exploitation to proliferate."

Apple has been fighting tooth and nail against any legislation that would allow apps to be downloaded onto the iPhone outside of the App Store. The company says that its tight control over apps on the iPhone provides trust for consumers. People who use an iPhone know they don't have to worry about downloading harmful apps as they go through an extensive review process with Apple's App Store team.

However, this is not always the case. Some harmful apps have still gotten through. One example is Wordle, an online word game that was hijacked by copycat apps on the App Store. Apple eventually removed all of them, but they did get through the review process at first.

Of course, no one is going to catch everything. And some developers may want to release apps through their own stores on the iPhone if that were possible to avoid Apple's 15-30% commission on apps and in-app purchases. We'll have to wait and see if the bill gets through the committee and how it will fare in front of the entire U.S. Senate.

Joe Wituschek
Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.

2 Comments
  • Thank you Joe Wituschek for such a well balanced article. Something else I would like to add is that your iPhone and iPad can get hacked just by means of a text message or an email. What good does the App Store do you then? None. I think Apple has grown more concerned about money when it comes to the App Store, and not people’s security. What concerns me about not being able to download Apps outside of Apple’s App Store is how Apple seems to buckle every time China doesn’t like an App, even ones that are not nefarious by design. What if the U.S., Australia, England, Germany or any other Country suddenly decided that an App you use and rely on was no longer legal, like WhatsApp? Not being able to download Apps outside of the App Store would be a major problem at that point. Thank you again for your article. 😊
  • Just because txt and e-mail hacks exist, doesn't mean app store vetting is useless. I wouldn't have any issue with the option if sideloading existed on iPhone, but I sure wouldn't use it. I would expect you to have to expressly allow it, just as in Android. In that vein, if your local government, for whatever reason, has had an app removed from the app store, don't you think sideloading it would be a violation of local laws? Guess you take your chances.