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US government effort to regulate Big Tech stalls


App Store faces barrage of antitrust charges
Support is lagging for a centerpiece of U.S. government efforts to regulate Big Tech.
Photo: Sora Shimazaki/Pexels CC

A bill aimed at regulating Big Tech is reportedly losing support in the U.S. Senate. The fate of the American Choice and Innovation Online Act is now in question.

It is a Democratic proposal but some Senate Democrats are leery about voting for it in an election year.

Proposed law would force profound changes on Apple App Store


Proposed law would force profound changes on Apple App Store
Lawmakers might require Apple to completely change the App Store.
Photo: Thuan Vo/Pexels

A trio of U.S. Senators introduced a bill that would force Apple to allow sideloading of applications and alternative iOS app stores. Other modifications to Apple’s and Google’s business models would be required as well.

Whether the proposed Open App Markets Act will pass is anyone’s guess. So far, Big Tech has always talked lawmakers out of passing legislation that would put significant restrictions on it. But if this bill becomes a law, the App Store will never be the same again.

Apple gives Senate antitrust testimony a hard pass


Tim Cook answers questions about App Store business practices during the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee hearing.
Tim Cook answers questions about App Store business practices at a Congressional hearing in 2020.
Photo: C-SPAN

A Senate subcommittee wants to ask Google and Apple antitrust-related questions about their software stores, but the iPhone-maker reportedly turned down a request to testify.

Apple told Senators it could not do so because of ongoing litigation. That’s probably a reference to the Epic Games v. Apple lawsuit currently in the pre-trial phase.

Senator’s farewell speech advocates for iPads on the Senate floor


Senator Michael B Enzi says iPads and other electronic devices should be allowed on the Senate floor.
Ironically, Senator Enzi had to read his farewell speech from a piece of paper, not an iPad.
Screenshot: Senator Enzi

U.S. senators are banned from using electronic devices on the senate floor, but retiring Senator Michael B. Enzi wants to change that. Despite being 76 years old, he used part of his farewell speech to urge his fellow lawmakers to end the restriction on laptops, phones and tablets.

Of course, the senator had to read his speech from a piece of paper, not the iPad he would have preferred.

Senators raise concerns over iPhone-maker’s $12 billion US chip factory


Apple A14 processor
Senators want to be sure a Taiwanese semiconductor plant being built in Arizona won‘t be a security risk. The factory could someday make Apple processors.
CGI: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

A trio of Democratic Senators raised questions on Tuesday about what incentives the Trump administration offered Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co to build a new processor fabrication plant in the U.S. This factory could be used to produce chips for future iPhones.

The lawmakers want to be sure that TSMC isn’t getting unfair advantages over American chip makers. And that the plant won’t allow U.S. trade secrets to leak to China.

Apple Watches at Trump impeachment turn senators into scofflaws


Series 3 6 months on
An Apple Watch is almost as capable as an iPhone (and neither is allowed in the Senate chamber this week).
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Some U.S. senators apparently just can’t be without their Apple gear, even when they aren’t supposed to have it. Lawmakers have been noticed wearing Apple Watches during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, a violation of the agreed-upon rules.

US Senator proposes new law aimed at limiting Apple data flow to China


Tim Cook meeting with China's vice premier.
Photo: Tim Cook

One of tech’s biggest opponents in Washington D.C. proposed a new bill this week that could have huge implications on Apple and TikTok’s business operations if put into law.

GOP senator Josh Hawley from Missouri introduced legislation today that would prevent the Chinese company that owns TikTok from collecting information on American users and sharing it with the Communist Party of China. The bill would also stop American companies like Apple from storing user data in China.

Apple wants US to overhaul privacy laws


Apple takes privacy seriously
Any future privacy legislation will likely have little effect on Apple as it already bends over backward to avoid collecting user information.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

A high-level Apple executive will tell the the U.S. senate tomorrow that the iPhone maker is in favor of federal privacy regulations.

He’ll be testifying along with representatives of Google and other companies likely to argue against privacy laws.

Congressional ‘Crypto Commission’ may tackle Apple vs FBI debate


Apple's fighting the FBI for the right to privacy.
Photo: Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that he wishes the company’s current battle with the FBI will be resolved by Congress, rather than in a courtroom, and it appears that he just may get his wish.

Lawmakers in both the House of Representatives and the Senate plan to propose a new commission be created that will specialize on finding the balance between citizens’ right to privacy, while also combating terrorism and other issues of national security.

Senate wiretapping debate comes to an end


wiretapping debate
The U.S. Senate is hashing out the USA Freedom Act, which concerns government wiretapping.
Screencap: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

The U.S. Senate has taken one step closer to a final vote on changing the government’s controversial program to freely tap and monitor citizens’ phones.

Senators voted 83-14 to end debate on the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection and Online Monitoring” (USA Freedom) Act. The bill will extend lapsed provisions of the anti-terrorism Patriot Act and aims to add transparency to the NSA’s activities surrounding wiretapping and data collection.

A final vote could happen as early as this afternoon.