Apple CEO Tim Cook recently criticized proposed antitrust regulation in the United States and Europe that would require Apple to allow iPhone users to download apps from sources outside of Apple’s App Store. According to Cook, downloading apps from open sources on the internet, or sideloading, could threaten the security and privacy of iPhone users. Regardless, legislators in Washington, D.C. and in the European Union (EU) are keen on breaking up Apple’s App Store monopoly.
At the recent International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) Global Privacy Summit in D.C., Cook delivered a speech in which he detailed the dangers of iPhone users being able to download apps from outside Apple’s App Store. In his speech, Cook stated that sideloading could lead to a scenario in which users can be tricked into installing malware and software that steals user data, according to CNBC. Cook cited reports of malicious apps on Android, on which sideloading is permitted.
Cook claims that iPhone users are safer downloading apps from Apple’s App Store, which vets every app and update. At the summit, Cook offered the example of COVID-19 tracing apps available to Android users that contained ransomware. Cook stated that Apple’s App Store rejected coronavirus-related apps that did not have a trusted institutional backer so as to prevent a similar issue from occurring on iPhones.
Despite Cook’s arguments, U.S. legislators are pushing for the implementation of the Open App Markets Act, which would require Apple to permit sideloading. In Europe, the EU recently agreed on the Digital Markets Act, which also stipulates a sideloading requirement.
Regulators are pushing for such a requirement as a means to foster competition and placate app developers, according to CNBC. App developers claim that Apple’s 15% to 30% cut on App Store purchases are excessive and want to sell to users directly in order to bypass Apple’s onerous fees.
Still, Cook argues that iPhone user safety should come first and that Apple’s vetting of apps is paramount to competition concerns by regulators. While allowing iPhone users to download whatever apps they would like from the internet may engender more competition amongst app developers, it will also enable more potential for hackers to scam iPhone users, according to Cook.