Policy

Apple's App Store fight heads to North Dakota

And the company is more worried than you might expect.

Apple's App Store fight heads to North Dakota

SB 2333 is making Apple worry.

Image: Apple

There's a new bill that's making Apple nervous, and it's called SB 2333.

It spans all of two pages and makes its point quite clear. It says a "digital application distribution platform" that does than $10 million in revenue in North Dakota each year — which includes every major app store — cannot:

  • "Require a developer to use a digital application distribution platform or digital transaction platform as the exclusive mode of distributing a digital product."
  • "Require a developer to use an in-application payment system as the exclusive mode of accepting payment from a user to download a software application or purchase a digital or physical product through a software application."
  • "Retaliate against a developer for choosing to use an alternative application store or in-application payment system."

Where did this come from? Kyle Davison, the North Dakota state senator who co-sponsored SB 2333, told me the Coalition for App Fairness originally brought up the bill to a firm in Fargo, North Dakota, where Davison and others are working to create more of a tech scene.

  • "We have created an entrepreneurial environment in our community ... that really revolves around innovation," he said. He saw SB 2333 as a way to benefit tech workers in the state, as well as hopefully entice people to move there.
  • It's not a crazy idea: People move to escape income tax, so why wouldn't some software companies move to escape a 30% app store commission?

In essence, the bill demands every platform run like the Mac does. Sure, you can have an app store, charge 30%, use your payment processing, go wild! But you have to also allow people to install and pay for apps in other ways.

  • That is precisely what people like Tim Sweeney and David Heinemeier Hansson have been asking for in recent months. Heinemeier Hansson testified in a hearing about the bill yesterday, and had prepared remarks — which he mostly didn't get to, in favor of refuting the "nonsense" arguments against the bill — that said "the 17 lines of SB 2333 read like music. Written in a language I can understand without hiring counsel to parse it for me."
  • Apple's Erik Neuenschwander made the opposite case, saying that the App Store's ability to stop malware, engender trust and make things easy is crucial. "Senate Bill 2333 threatens to destroy [the] iPhone as you know it," he said.

Before you write this off as being the efforts of one state far afield of the tech industry: don't. It's significant in and of itself that a bill like this made it to public debate, and it obviously has Apple concerned enough to send Neuenschwander, its manager of user privacy, to testify.

  • Davison said after the hearing that he couldn't believe how much attention the issue had gotten: "I think it raises an awareness not just in me but in my colleagues that it is a real issue."
  • He didn't sound particularly confident that it would pass, at least in this first incarnation, but said it was clear that this conversation needed to happen both in North Dakota and elsewhere.
And you should expect to hear about this elsewhere. There's a similar bill under consideration in Arizona, SB 1642, which argues for the exact same thing as the North Dakota bill in almost the exact same way. And I'm told there are other laws like these coming sooner rather than later.
Workplace

It's OK to cry at work

Our comfort with crying at work has changed drastically over the past couple years. But experts said the hard part is helping workers get through the underlying mental health challenges.

Tech workers and workplace mental health experts said discussing emotions at work has become less taboo over the past couple years, but we’re still a ways away from completely normalizing the conversation — and adjusting policies accordingly.

Photo: Teerasak Ainkeaw / EyeEm via Getty Images

Everyone seems to be ugly crying on the internet these days. A new Snapchat filter makes people look like they’re breaking down on television, crying at celebratory occasions or crying when it sounds like they’re laughing. But one of the ways it's been used is weirdly cathartic: the workplace.

In one video, a creator posted a video of their co-worker merely sitting at a desk, presumably giggling or smiling, but the Snapchat tool gave them a pained look on their face. The video was captioned: “When you still have two hours left of your working day.” Another video showed someone asking their co-workers if they enjoy their job. Everyone said yes, but the filter indicated otherwise.

Keep Reading Show less
Sarah Roach

Sarah Roach is a news writer at Protocol (@sarahroach_) and contributes to Source Code. She is a recent graduate of George Washington University, where she studied journalism and mass communication and criminal justice. She previously worked for two years as editor in chief of her school's independent newspaper, The GW Hatchet.

Sponsored Content

Foursquare data story: leveraging location data for site selection

We take a closer look at points of interest and foot traffic patterns to demonstrate how location data can be leveraged to inform better site selecti­on strategies.

Imagine: You’re the leader of a real estate team at a restaurant brand looking to open a new location in Manhattan. You have two options you’re evaluating: one site in SoHo, and another site in the Flatiron neighborhood. Which do you choose?

Keep Reading Show less
Enterprise

Arm’s new CEO is planning the IPO it sought to avoid last year

Arm CEO Rene Haas told Protocol that Arm will be fine as a standalone company, as it focuses on efficient computing and giving customers a more finished product than a basic chip core design.

Rene Haas is taking Arm on a fresh trajectory.

Photo: Arm

The new path for Arm is beginning to come into focus.

Weeks after Nvidia’s $40 bid to acquire Arm from SoftBank collapsed, the appointment of Rene Haas to replace longtime chief executive Simon Segars has set the business on a fresh trajectory. Haas appears determined to shake up the company, with plans to lay off as much as 15% of the staff ahead of plans to take the company public once again by the end of March next year.

Keep Reading Show less
Max A. Cherney

Max A. Cherney is a senior reporter at Protocol covering the semiconductor industry. He has worked for Barron's magazine as a Technology Reporter, and its sister site MarketWatch. He is based in San Francisco.

Policy

The great onshoring: Inside the transcontinental chip race

The second annual Trade and Technology Council emphasized the centrality of semiconductor onshoring to U.S.-EU military objectives.

For chip manufacturers, free-flowing subsidies for now might come at the cost of a potential overcapacity problem in the longer term.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

The prospect of global conflict permeated the room at this year’s Trade and Technology Council, which concluded in France earlier this week. The second annual gathering of U.S. and EU officials yielded a joint statement that mentioned some form of “Russia” or “Ukraine” more frequently than “technology,” “regulation,” “investment,” “security” or “competition.”

The conflict in Ukraine, having already escalated into a U.S. proxy war, seemingly convinced the EU to fall in line with the American tech policy agenda.

Keep Reading Show less
Hirsh Chitkara

Hirsh Chitkara ( @HirshChitkara) is a reporter at Protocol focused on the intersection of politics, technology and society. Before joining Protocol, he helped write a daily newsletter at Insider that covered all things Big Tech. He's based in New York and can be reached at hchitkara@protocol.com.

Climate

2- and 3-wheelers dominate oil displacement by EVs

Increasingly widespread EV adoption is starting to displace the use of oil, but there's still a lot of work to do.

More electric mopeds on the road could be an oil demand game-changer.

Photo: Humphrey Muleba/Unsplash

Electric vehicles are starting to make a serious dent in oil use.

Last year, EVs displaced roughly 1.5 million barrels per day, according to a new analysis from BloombergNEF. That is more than double the share EVs displaced in 2015. The majority of the displacement is coming from an unlikely source.

Keep Reading Show less
Lisa Martine Jenkins

Lisa Martine Jenkins is a senior reporter at Protocol covering climate. Lisa previously wrote for Morning Consult, Chemical Watch and the Associated Press. Lisa is currently based in Brooklyn, and is originally from the Bay Area. Find her on Twitter ( @l_m_j_) or reach out via email (ljenkins@protocol.com).

Latest Stories
Bulletins