Apple is urging US lawmakers to address the dangers of legally allowed app sideloading

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The Apple logo can be seen in this illustration taken on March 1, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

March 4, 2022

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Smartphone maker Apple has written to lawmakers to dispute claims that its concerns about the dangers of sideloading apps into phones have been overdone.

Sideloading, downloading apps without using an app store, is among the reforms lawmakers hope will open up the app market.

Congress is currently considering a bill aimed at restricting app stores operated by Apple and Alphabet’s Google, which would require companies to allow sideloading. Apple has argued that such a practice would pose a security risk as it tightly controls the apps on the store to ensure user safety.

In a Thursday letter sent to key members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee, Apple said it was aware that one critic, computer security expert Bruce Schneier, had called his concerns about sideloading “unfounded.”

Apple further argued that most malware does not rely on technical tricks to gain access to devices, instead tricking the human user into downloading them. It argued that Apple’s screening of apps submitted to the App Store “creates a high barrier against the most common scams used to distribute malware.”

Apple acknowledged that Schneier was right that state-sponsored attackers could penetrate smartphone security controls, but argued that these types of attacks are a “rare threat.”

“There is ample evidence that third-party app stores are an important malware vector on platforms that support such stores,” Apple said in the letter, seen by Reuters.

It was sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin, Chief Republican Chuck Grassley, as well as Amy Klobuchar, Chair of the Antitrust Subcommittee, along with Chief Republican Mike Lee.

The committee voted to pass the bill in early February. The measure would also prevent companies from requiring app providers to use their payment system and would prohibit them from penalizing apps that offer different prices or terms through another app store or payment system.

The biggest tech companies, including Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook and, have come under pressure in Congress over allegations of abusing their outsized market power. A long list of bills aims to curb them, but none have become law.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Aurora Ellis) Apple is urging US lawmakers to address the dangers of legally allowed app sideloading

Caroline Bleakley

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