US Government to Investigate Sideloading and Web App Restrictions on iOS

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has launched an investigation into competition in mobile application ecosystems.

On behalf of the United States Department of Commerce, the NTIA is now seeking comment on competition in mobile application ecosystems. The investigation was prompted by an Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the U.S. Economy of July last year, with the goal of making recommendations to improve competition, reduce barriers to entry and maximize benefits for users. President Biden’s executive order explained:

America’s information technology industry has long been an engine of innovation and growth, but today a small number of dominant Internet platforms are using their power to exclude market entrants, extract profits from monopoly and collect intimate personal information that they can exploit for their own benefit. advantage. Too many small businesses across the economy depend on these platforms and a few online marketplaces for their survival…

The formal request for comment lists in detail how iOS is likely to be examined in the investigation, with questions related to the benefits of developing a standalone app for one platform over cross-platform web apps, how web apps should work on mobile platforms, availability of other app distribution methods, and sideloading of apps. Particular attention is paid to iOS’s “unique barriers” that prevent users and developers from taking advantage of web apps, apps from alternative app stores, or downloaded apps.

“The app economy is becoming a fundamental way for Americans to interact with their environment,” the request for comment explains. “Thus, it is essential that this market be robust, open, innovative and secure, and without barriers to entry and growth.”

The Federal Register is now open for public comment on competition in mobile app ecosystems. Information gathered from the survey will be used to inform President Biden’s competition agenda later this year.

Apple’s ecosystem is coming under increasing scrutiny from governments around the world, including the UK, Japan, South Korea, European Union, and more. , with a clear appetite from global regulators to explore side-loading and application interoperability requirements.

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