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Ranking Member Buck, Congressman Johnson Introduce Bipartisan Plan to Rein in App Store Monopolies

August 13, 2021
Press Release
Reps. Buck of Colorado and Johnson of Georgia Offer Legislation to Protect Consumers, Level Playing Field for App Developers, Create Competition, and Rein in Anticompetitive Behavior

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Ken Buck (CO-04), Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, and Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04), Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, today introduced the Open App Markets Act, which would level the playing field for small app developers, strengthen consumer protections within the app markets and ensure that the antitrust laws are working properly in the digital ecosystem.

The Open App Markets Act is the House companion to a Senate bill that was introduced this week by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

“For far too long, companies like Google and Apple have had a stranglehold on app developers who are forced to take whatever terms these monopolists set in order to reach their customers,” said Rep. Buck. “I am proud to co-lead the Open App Markets Act because it will restore competition to the digital marketplace, rein in anticompetitive behavior, and ensure consumers are getting access to the apps they actually want and are paying a fair price to get them.”

“It is imperative that we ensure that the antitrust laws are working properly in the multi-billion-dollar digital marketplace,” said Rep. Johnson. “For too long, Google and Apple in particular have enjoyed a near monopolistic grip on the mobile app market – stifling competition and strangling consumer choice. I’m pleased to be working with Congressman Buck to hold big tech accountable, level the playing field for small developers and increase competition and innovation in the digital ecosystem, all while offering consumers more control and security over their data.”

The mobile economy is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. In 2020 alone, U.S. consumers spent nearly $33 billion in mobile app stores, downloading 13.4 billion apps. But today, just two companies control access to 98 percent of this market -- undermining the choice and economic opportunities of countless small businesses and app developers. As a result, there is mounting evidence of higher prices, less innovation, and fewer choices for consumers in the digital marketplace.

The Open App Markets Act would protect developers’ rights to tell consumers about lower prices and offer competitive pricing; protect sideloading of apps; open up competitive avenues for startup apps, third party app stores, and payment services; make it possible for developers to offer new experiences that take advantage of consumer device features; give consumers more control over their devices; prevent app stores from disadvantaging developers; and set safeguards to continue protecting the privacy, security, and safety of consumers.

Rep. Buck has championed antitrust reforms that restore competition and rein in Big Tech’s anticompetitive behavior, including co-leading six antitrust bills that passed the House Judiciary Committee in June.