Yet another bill calls for Apple to allow third-party app payments


2021 App Store Awards
Illinois wants new legislation against Apple and Google.
Image: Apple

Illinois is the latest U.S. state to file a bill that could force Apple and Google to accept third-party payment systems inside apps.

The “Freedom to Subscribe Directly Act,” supported by Hey app developer Basecamp, wants to prohibit both companies from requiring developers to use the App Store and Google Play to sell software and subscriptions.

Illinois attacks App Store payments

A growing number of states, regulators, and app developers are fighting to loosen the vice-like grip Apple and Google have over their app marketplaces. They all want to see more relaxed rules — particularly over in-app payments.

South Korea last year became the first country to implement a new law that says Apple and Google must allow third-party payment services for software and subscriptions, and others are following suit. Now Illinois is stepping up.

Its new bill, filed on Tuesday, proposes Apple and Google may not “require a software application developer that is domiciled in the State to use a particular in-application payment system as the exclusive mode of accepting payments.”

It also looks to prohibit retaliation against a developer or user “for using an in-application payment system or digital application distribution platform that is not owned by, operated by, or affiliated with” Apple or Google.

Supported by Basecamp

The bill is supported by David Heinemeier-Hansson, CEO of Basecamp, the company behind the Hey email app. In 2020, Apple threatened to remove Hey from the App Store because it did not give users the ability to purchase a subscription through Apple and instead pointed them to Hey’s website.

Since then, Heinemeier-Hansson has supported a number of bills that call for new legislation that will force Apple and Google to give developers more freedom over in-app payments. But none have been successful so far.

Arizona, Minnesota, and North Dakota have all filed similar proposals calling for third-party payment systems to be allowed on iOS and Android. Apple and Google lobbied against them, obviously, and they ended up dead in the water.

While Illinois may be fighting a losing battle, then, it’s yet another name to add to the list of those fighting for fairer app marketplaces.


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