Americans should be able to trust that their members of Congress will consider all the implications of the bills they write. On February 2, we wrote the Senate Judiciary Committee two letters warning them that the Open App Markets Act would have serious effects on users’ online experience, privacy, and safety, and recommending amendments that would fix some of the bill’s biggest flaws.
In a coalition letter with several civil society organizations, we explained how the Open App Markets Act will enable sites and apps that traffic in hate speech, incitement, and blatant lies to attack reasonable content moderation if Congress doesn’t clarify the language in the bill. These bad-faith actors will constantly sue app stores over their editorial judgments under the guise of competition-related complaints, burying app stores in expensive litigation to discourage content moderation.
In another letter, we shared how the Open App Markets Act’s affirmative defense section harms privacy and security. If an app store wanted to take down an app for legitimate reasons, they would have to jump through unprecedented hoops: meeting a strict scrutiny standard, proving a negative to show that their decision was not a pretext, and potentially demonstrating consistency in how they treat all apps in their store. These practically impossible standards would leave app stores with an incentive structure that encourages them not to take down apps that violate user privacy or undermine children’s digital safety.
As written, this bill would harm app users as well as app stores that exercise their right to make editorial judgments about the content allowed on their platform. It’s up to Congress to pass amendments that would right the ship and fix the bill.