Congress asks Spotify for information on Apple’s antitrust behavior

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United States Capitol by Jens Junge
All the major tech companies are under investigation.
Photo: Jens June/Pixabay

Spotify is reportedly helping the feds with their antitrust investigation into Apple’s App Store.

U.S. lawmakers asked Spotify to submit information related to an ongoing antitrust investigation into whether Apple engages in anticompetitive behavior. As one of Apple’s biggest critics, Spotify already helped with probes in Europe. However, this is the first news we’ve had of the company assisting investigators in the United States.

Congress wants to read Tim Cook’s emails for antitrust investigation

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Tim Cook with a 2018 WWDC scholarship winner.
Tim shows off the hilarious memes he's forwarded to friends. (Possibly.)
Photo: Apple

House Judiciary Committee leaders want Tim Cook to turn over his emails and other information as part of a possible antitrust investigation.

Cook is one of dozens of executives from Apple, Facebook, Google parent company Alphabet and Amazon named in the request. It follows increased scrutiny of Apple, particularly surrounding the way that it runs the App Store — and possible conflicts of interest that result.

Apple spends millions lobbying lawmakers about tax

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money
Here's what Apple spends money on when it lobbies Congress.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

When it comes to lobbying Congress, Apple’s biggest focus by far is on tax laws. Out of 236 lobbying reports since 2005, tax is mentioned in a massive 76%.

This is one takeaway from a new report, analyzing lobbying spend from the big five tech giants, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft. Between them, they have spent $582 million on lobbying since 2005. According to the report, Apple spent $9.6 million on lobbying last year, and $59.9 million since 2005.

Apple spent millions lobbying Trump administration in 2018

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Cash app with cash money
Apple's spend is nothing compared to some of its tech rivals, however.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

Apple spent $6.6 million lobbying Congress and other federal officials in 2018, newly released records show. While that’s approximately in line with the $7 million it spent in 2017, it’s considerably less than the amount spent by some of Apple’s FAANG rivals.

During the same period, Facebook spent $12.6 million, Amazon spent $14.2 million, and Google — the biggest lobbyist by far — spent a massive $21 million. That’s an increase on Google’s $18 million spend in 2017.

Proposed privacy legislation outlaws some Google business practices

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Apple takes privacy seriously
A statement on Apple’s stance toward privacy is baked into iOS.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) published a draft privacy bill this morning that proposes making it harder for companies to track people’s location or collect biometric information about them. 

Apple is a top donor to the CDT, and the company has taken a strong stance on protecting user’s privacy.

We read Apple’s 19-page privacy declaration so you don’t have to

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Apple Maps reservation OpenTable
Among other iPhone privacy topics, Apple explained to U.S. lawmakers that if your iPhone is tracking you, it's because you've given it permission to.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Privacy has become a hot-button issue, and a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives recently sent Apple some questions about iPhone privacy protections. These were about location tracking, audio recordings, and third-party applications.

The in-depth responses spell out Apple’s strong commitment to iPhone user’s privacy in all these areas.

Congress criticizes FBI quest for iPhone ‘backdoor’

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Apple help
The FBI took some Congressional-strength flack today for wanting an iPhone backdoor for law enforcement.
Photo: Dave Newman/Flickr CC

Congress has called the FBI on the carpet for its attempt to require Apple to build a backdoor into the iPhone. A letter went out today from a bi-partisan group of representatives  accusing the law enforcement agency of over-stating difficulties in unlocked iPhones involved in crimes.

The ten congresspeople wrote that the FBI deliberately didn’t explore all the options to unlock the iPhone belonging to a mass shooter because they wanted an excuse to force Apple to modify iOS so it’s easy for law enforcement to access.