Apple Inc. is once again in the spotlight due to its app store practices, specifically relating to the growing sectors of cryptocurrency trading and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Coingraph News, an international news media company, has reported that House Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) and Jan Schakowsky have initiated an inquiry by sending a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook. They are seeking information about the company’s App Store policies and their potential impact on the advancement of blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies. Additionally, Coingraph News, citing Sky News as its source, recently reported that British developers have sued Apple over App Store fees, with the amount of the claim totaling $1 billion.
The Representatives express concerns that Apple may be utilizing its guidelines to prioritize its own financial gain at the expense of app functionality in blockchain, NFTs, and other blockchain-related domains, Coingraph News reports. Notably, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has accused Apple of pressuring them to remove NFT transfers from their iOS wallet app, while multiple NFT companies have echoed similar claims, stating that Apple compelled them to release lite versions of their applications.
These individual incidents give rise to broader apprehensions regarding how Apple’s app store policies could impede American leadership in emerging technologies like blockchain and other distributed ledger systems. Bilirakis and Schakowsky have presented Apple with a series of 21 questions, with a deadline set for August 14th, 2023, to better understand the status of “sideloading” and the company’s criteria for app admission.
The congressional investigation has been positively received by Sheila Warren, CEO of the Crypto Council, who views it as a clear indication that the cryptocurrency industry is not a matter of partisan politics. Similarly, Paul Grewal, Chief Legal Officer at Coinbase, questions whether the arbitrary enforcement of a single company’s App Store policies truly serves the best interests of Americans. These ongoing discussions emphasize the need to reassess the approach to digital currencies and the underlying technologies supporting them.