Legislative efforts to break open Apple’s ‘walled garden’ could erode people’s privacy
Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) chief executive Tim Cook lashed out at pending antitrust regulations in the US and Europe, saying they would harm iPhone user privacy and security.
During a speech at the Global Privacy Summit in Washington, Cook said regulators’ efforts to force Apple to allow iPhone users the option to install apps from the web, called sideloading, could result in users being tricked into installing malware that steals data.
Cook cited reports of malicious apps on Android, where sideloading is currently allowed.
At the moment, users can only download iPhone software from Apple’s App Store, which vets every update and app.
Cook said the App Store’s vetting process could also be circumvented should regulations come into play, lowering security for users.
By emphasising user risks, Cook’s comments highlight Apple’s strategy for softening the sideloading requirements in the pending antitrust regulation.
Cook’s speech isn’t the first time Apple has argued against App Store regulations based on security concerns.
An Apple official warned lawmakers earlier this year that sideloading might expose millions of Americans to malware attacks on their phones.
“Here in Washington and elsewhere, policymakers are taking steps in the name of competition that would force Apple to let apps on the iPhone that circumvent the App Store through a process called sideloading,” said Cook, quoted by CNBC.
“That means data-hungry companies would be able to avoid our privacy rules, and once again track our users against their will.”
Although Cook did not mention any specific legislation, a US bill introduced in August called the Open App Markets Act specifically targets Apple and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Google’s App Stores.
Sideloading would be forced on companies if the law passes.
A Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill in February and Congress is to continue to debate the bill this year.
Europe recently agreed on the Digital Markets Act, which targets big tech companies. Sideloading is included in early versions of the Act, but it hasn’t been finalised.