Lawmakers scrutinize Apple’s App Store Guidelines for blockchain and NFT limitations

Lawmakers scrutinize Apple's App Store Guidelines for blockchain and NFT limitations

The Impact of Apple’s App Store Guidelines on the Blockchain Industry

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Apple is currently facing regulatory scrutiny in the United States over its App Store guidelines, which allegedly harm apps related to blockchain and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). In a formal letter, US Representatives Gus Bilirakis of the Republican Party, representing Florida, and Jan Schakowsky of the Democratic Party, representing Illinois, expressed their concerns directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook. The lawmakers raised questions about the potential impact of Apple’s guidelines on the advancement of innovative technologies like distributed ledger technology and NFTs.

According to the representatives, there seems to be a pattern in Apple’s approach, where the company appears to profit from and limit the functionality of crypto apps simultaneously. This is achieved by mandating the release of “lite” versions of the apps, generating profits for Apple while reducing the overall utility of the applications. The lawmakers highlighted the case of Axie Infinity’s App Store experience as evidence of this strategy.

While Apple has justified these limitations as necessary for security, there is growing concern that the company is using the App Store as a tool to suppress competition. The representatives believe it is crucial for Congress to thoroughly understand the App Store guidelines and assess how they may hinder innovation. They emphasized their commitment to promoting full transparency and holding Big Tech accountable for monopolistic behavior.

Crypto Apps Face Struggle to Comply With Apple’s 30% Fee

One specific anti-crypto policy mentioned in the letter is the requirement for blockchain projects to give up 30% of their gas fees to the App Store. Coinbase Wallet, for example, previously claimed that complying with this requirement was impossible because Apple’s in-app purchase system did not support cryptocurrencies. Similarly, Damus, a decentralized social networking app backed by Jack Dorsey, has been facing removal from the App Store because it allegedly fails to adhere to Apple’s payment rules.

Damus has a tipping feature that allows content creators to receive tips in the form of Bitcoin through the Lightning Network. However, Apple deems this feature a violation of its guidelines, as it prohibits developers from selling additional in-app content unless the transactions go through Apple, from which the tech giant takes a 30% cut. This poses a challenge for blockchain projects striving to comply with Apple’s policies while offering innovative features.

Amid recent controversies surrounding social media platforms and their adherence to the values of “freedom of speech,” there has been a surge in interest in decentralized social media platforms. Aave’s Lens Protocol, for example, is a Web3 social graph that aims to allow developers to create decentralized applications and build decentralized social media.

The impact of Apple’s App Store guidelines on the blockchain industry goes beyond hindering innovation and limiting functionality. It raises important questions about monopolistic behavior and the need for transparency in regulating Big Tech. As technology continues to evolve, it becomes crucial for policymakers to strike a balance between security concerns and fostering innovation in order to fully realize the potential of blockchain technology and decentralized applications.

In conclusion, the clash between Apple’s App Store guidelines and the blockchain industry exposes the challenges and tensions that arise as emerging technologies and established platforms intersect. It not only affects specific projects but also has broader implications for the future of innovation and competition within the tech industry. The scrutiny faced by Apple highlights the need for ongoing dialogues and examination of the regulatory frameworks governing digital platforms to ensure fair treatment and foster a diverse and thriving ecosystem.