EU app store regulations would open ‘Pandora’s box’

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A draft European regulation that could force Apple to allow iPhone users to install software from the web would open “Pandora’s box” and could pose a threat to entire networks of computers, the vice president said. Apple Software senior Craig Federighi in a speech Wednesday.

The remarks at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal represent an escalation in Apple’s rhetoric about what could go wrong if Apple is forced to change its policies on the App Store. Regulators and lawmakers around the world are scrutinizing corporate control over iPhone software.

Apple is particularly concerned about the Digital Markets Act, which CEO Tim Cook previously said would require Apple to allow “sideloading” or the ability to install iPhone apps from the web rather than through the Apple App Store.

“European policymakers have often been ahead of the curve,” said Federighi. “But requiring sideloading on iPhone would be a step backwards. Instead of creating a choice, it could open up a Pandora’s Box of malware and unexamined software.”

The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, introduced the Digital Markets Act last December. The law is designed to prevent companies like Apple, Google and Meta, the company previously known as Facebook, from abusing their power. It contains a series of rules that would force them to open their platforms to competitors. Failure to comply can result in fines of up to 10% of companies’ global annual turnover.

In a report filed with the US SEC last month, Apple specifically named the digital markets law and said, if enacted, it could require changes to Apple’s App Store that could hurt the company’s bottom line.

On Wednesday, Federighi did not address the potential financial impact on Apple. Instead, he argued that sideloading will trick users into downloading malware.

“Even if you don’t intend to sideload, people are consistently coerced or tricked into doing it,” Federighi said, citing Google Android malware that enables sideloading. However, Google cautions users against doing so in system messages and pop-ups.

Federighi argued that while technically skilled people may be able to identify malware on the internet, their parents or children could still be tricked into making everyone’s iPhone data less secure.

“The point is that a compromised device, including a mobile phone, can pose a threat to an entire network,” said Federighi. “Malware in downloaded applications can endanger government systems, affect corporate networks, utilities, the list goes on.”

“This provision of DMA would force every iPhone user into a landscape of professional crooks constantly trying to cheat them,” Federighi said. He said users can choose between iPhones and Android phones that allow side-loading.

Apple has opposed any changes to its App Store that introduce new methods for users to install iPhone apps. It is appealing a ruling in a U.S. legal battle with Epic Games that said Apple must allow app developers to use and connect to their own billing software from apps.

Apple says its App Store and approval process provide security and more privacy to its users. But the App Store also generates significant profits for Apple through app download fees and in-app purchases, which can be as high as 30%.

Developers and regulators say Apple’s control over its App Store, including banning downloads, narrows user choice and forces software makers to pay Apple for services like processing payments. they can do it themselves inexpensively.

Federighi’s speech on Wednesday echoed some points made by Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier this year, but overtook them, particularly when discussing scenarios in which iPhone users can be hacked through the side loading.

“I’m looking at the technology regulation being discussed, I think there are some good parts. And I think some parts are not in the best interests of the user,” Cook said of DMA earlier. this year in a virtual appearance at a French conference.

“If you take an example where I don’t think it’s in the best interest, that the current DMA language being discussed would force sideload on the iPhone,” Cook said. “And so that would be another way to get apps on the iPhone, because we’re looking at this, it would destroy the security of the iPhone.”


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