Arizona App Store bill ‘mysteriously’ doesn’t get a vote

Illustration for an article titled Controversial Arizona Bill That Would Have Changed App Stores And Gets Mysterious At Night

Photo: Victoria Song / Gizmodo

On Wednesday, the Arizona State Senate was supposed to vote Arizona HB2005, a controversial bill that would have dramatically changed the way Apple and Google app stores work. But according to a Verge report, the vote It never happened. Despite being on the Senate agenda, the bill was skipped without an explanation.

Since the invoice was happened earlier this month In the Arizona House of Representatives, both Apple and Google have vehemently opposed it. According to a protocol reportBoth tech giants have dispatched a swarm of lobbyists to the state. It is easy to understand why. In one word, HB2005 would have effectively banned app stores from banning alternative in-app payment systems. Companies like Apple and Google would also be prohibited from retaliating against applications that opt ​​for an alternative payment system.

In other words, the bill was a major threat to the infamous 30% fee that both Apple and Google impose on developers for most app sales and in-app transactions. This so-called apple tax has been hotly debated for the past year, in part because of intensified antitrust scrutiny against Big Tech and in part due to the uproar sparked by Epic Games’ dispute with Apple over in-app transactions on Fortnite. Both Apple Y Google They have since reduced that commission rate to 15% for developers making less than $ 1 million.

The fact that the vote was skipped has prompted at least one Apple critic to accuse the company of working behind the scenes to kill the bill. Basecamp Co-Founder David Heinemeier Hansson tweeted yesterday, “The big show turned out to be a no show. The bill was assassinated on the air while it was on the agenda with a secret agreement. Apple has hired the former governor’s chief of staff, and he is said to have negotiated a deal to prevent this from being heard. # America4Sale ”. Hansson had provided testimony in support of HB2005 and has openly criticized the company after the The App Store debacle with Hey, Basecamp’s email app, last summer. Hansson is also involved with the Coalition for App Fairness, a nonprofit industry group whose mission is to respond to what it considers anti-competitive policies of the app store.

Under protocol, Apple had sent its own lobbyist, Ron Diridon, to Arizona in addition to hiring Kirk Adams, former Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s chief of staff and speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives. The report also quoted Arizona State Representative Regina Cobb, who sponsored the bill, as saying, “We went through a very difficult weekend where Apple and Google probably hired almost every lobbyist in the city.”

Google declined to comment on this story. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Arizona bill is not unequivocally dead, but the development does not bode well for passage of the legislation. North Dakota also introduced a similar, albeit more far-reaching, bill that could not pass in February. The Coalition for App Fairness is also pushing other state legislatures to introduce similar bills, including in Illinois, New York, Georgia, Minnesota, and Massachusetts. Arizona’s bill was significant because it was the most advanced, but it was also fraught with some challenges that may resurface in other state efforts. For starters, while some posited this would be a boon for small businesses in Arizona, other legislators raised concerns that the bill was rushed, if it was a matter better handled by the federal government, and how it could interfere with the current Epic Games vs. Apple case in California.

The legislative session has not ended. We will continue to push for solutions that increase choice, support application developers and small businesses, and end monopolistic practices, ”said Megh.a DiMuzio, CEO of the Coalition of App Freedom, in an email to Gizmodo.

In any case, even if lobbyists at Apple and Google managed to crush the Arizona bill, there is no guarantee that you will be able to play hit with each of the other state bills in the pipeline. However, whether individual state laws regarding app stores can be effectively enforced without federal intervention, is another question for which there is no clear answer.

Update, 03/25/2021, 12:30 pm: This article has been updated to include a CAF statement.


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