A Pandora’s Box of unreviewed malware and software would be opened with Europe’s proposed regulation, warns Apple software vice president Craig Federighi. He said it could pose threats to entire networks of computers.
“European policymakers have often been ahead of the curve. But requiring sideloading on iPhone would be a step backward,” Federighi said. “Instead of creating choice, it could open up a Pandora’s Box of unreviewed malware and software.”
The European Commission is set to impose the Digital Markets Act which is designed to stop companies like Apple, Google and Meta (previously known as Facebook) from abusing their power. It has a series of rules that would require the big tech to open up their platforms to competitors, and failure to comply would result in fines as high as 10% of the companies’ worldwide annual revenue.
Apple CEO Tim Cook had said this would result in Apple being forced to allow sideloading or the ability to install iPhone apps from the web instead of through Apple’s App Store. Federighi believes sideloading would cause users to be tricked into downloading malware. “Even if you have no intention of sideloading, people are routinely coerced or tricked into doing it.” He argued that although technically skilled people might be able to identify malware on the internet, their parents or children might still be fooled, making everyone’s iPhone data less secure. “The fact is one compromised device, including a mobile phone can pose a threat to an entire network. Malware in sideloaded apps can jeopardize government systems, affect enterprise networks, public utilities and the list goes on.
Federighi said that one provision in the DMA would force every iPhone user into a landscape of professional con artists constantly trying to fool them. He pointed out that users can choose between iPhones and Android phones that allow sideloading.
Moreover, Apple in a report filed with the US SEC, last month, said that if the Digital Markets Act was enacted, it could require changes to Apple’s App Store that might harm the company’s financial results. The company argues that its App Store and approval process provides security and more privacy for its users. But the App Store also generates large amounts of profit for Apple through app download fees and in-app purchases, which can range up to 30%.
Furthermore, developers and regulators argue that the company’s control over its App Store, including the prohibition on sideloading, reduce user choice and force software makers to pay Apple for services like payment processing they can do more cheaply on their own.