Apple terms sideloading ‘cybercriminal’s best friend’ in push against EU policy

Apple senior vice president Craig Federighi voiced his company’s dissatisfaction towards the EU draft guidelines that will allow users to install software from sources other than the App Store. Speaking at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Federighi based ‘sideloading’ of for potentially opening the devices to online threats.

Apple has maintained that allowing applications from third-party sources would make its phones vulnerable to malware or hijacking by cybercriminals. The Cupertino tech giant has been sending its senior executives to Europe to garner public support in its contention against the proposed law.

The Digital Markets Act under consideration in Brussels would force phone makers to allow third-party software to be installed on their devices from outside official app stores.

Big Tech critics say Apple and others use their control over software to entrench their dominant positions, while Apple argues its policies are a matter of keeping users safe.

Apple calls such unofficial app installations “side-loading”. Such a function is already available on Android phones that make up a majority of devices around the world. Apple warned of malicious apps infecting shopper gadgets and made doomsday predictions.

“Sideloading is a cybercriminal’s best friend,” Federighi pressed the case on stage, addressing thousands of attendees at Europe’s largest technology conference.

One compromised device could overflow into entire networks, and malware could jeopardize government systems, enterprise networks and public utilities, he said.

The draft rules need a green light from EU lawmakers and EU countries before they become law, likely in 2023.

Apple charges commissions of up to 30% for purchases made within the App Store and loosening its grip on it might allow developers to avoid paying those commissions.

Companies such as Spotify, which have been fighting Apple on different fronts, from privacy changes on iOS devices to high commissions, have called Apple’s policies as “anticompetitive.”

“The discussion about sideloading is just a sideshow, which is really designed to deflect the conversation away from the things that Apple is doing that are clearly anticompetitive,” Spotify Chief Legal Officer Horacio Gutierrez said in an interview.

“No one is arguing that Apple should lower their standards for privacy and security… it’s perfectly logical that Apple would set and enforce certain standards with respect to privacy,” he said.

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