Big Tech Buster: North Dakota Bill Aims to Fight Big Tech Dominance

February 15th, 2021 11:45 AM

While Congress and the Senate were wrapped up in impeaching and acquitting former President Donald Trump mostly along partisan lines (again), one state decided to take the issue of Big Tech dominance into its own hands. 

A new North Dakota bill aims to fight Big Tech market power by no longer allowing app distribution platforms, like Apple or Google, to require a percentage of every sale. 

The New York Times described the bill as “a law to stop Apple and Google from forcing companies in the state to hand over a share of their app sales.”

The bill would no longer allow app distribution platforms, such as Apple or Google, to “Require a developer to use the provider's digital application distribution platform as the exclusive means of distributing a digital product to a user.” Providers also would not be able to “Require a developer to use the provider's digital transaction platform or in-application payment system” to accept payment from users. 

“The bill would prohibit Apple and Google from requiring apps to use their payment systems, which enable them to collect their commissions,” The Times explained.

App providers would also not be able to “Retaliate against a developer for choosing to use another digital application distribution platform, digital transaction system, or in-application payment system” under the bill’s provisions. Developers also could not “Refuse to allow a developer to provide the provider's application or digital product to or through the provider's platform or system or refuse to allow a user access to the developer's application or digital product through the provider's platform or system, on account of the developer's use of another platform or system.”

Essentially, the above provisions just mean that the bill “would also require Apple and Google to allow users of their smartphones to download apps from outside their flagship app stores,” The Times explained. “Google already allows such downloads, but Apple does not.”

North Dakota State Senator Kyle Davison (R) introduced the bill. He told The Times, “I would not be truthful if I said I expected the reaction,” referring to the lobbying and media frenzy that followed. The bill’s first hearing reportedly drew “Washington lawyers, North Dakota newspapers and Silicon Valley executives” The Times reported. 

Lacee Bjork Anderson, the lobbyist who proposed the bill to Davison, told The Times that Apple was “setting up Zoom calls with every senator,” in an attempt to dissuade state senators from voting for the bill. 

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