Illinois bill could force Apple to allow alternative payment methods for apps


After Arizona unsuccessfully tried to force Apple and Google to allow alternative payment methods in third-party apps distributed through the App Store and Google Play, Illinois is following suit. Illinois senators have introduced a bill for the two companies to allow developers to use payment methods of their choice.

As reported by WGEM, the “Freedom to Subscribe Directly Act” aims to prohibit Apple and Google from forcing developers to use the App Store and Google Play to “sell their products and services”. In other words, the law would allow developers to distribute apps that sell items without using the native in-app purchases system or even outside of the App Store.

The Illinois senators’ proposal is backed by software company Basecamp, also located in Illinois. Basecamp, which is responsible for the HEY messaging client, had a dispute with Apple in the past when the Cupertino-based company rejected HEY on the App Store because the developers didn’t want to pay Apple the 30% commission.

“Apple demanded that we sell our new service through their payment processor, so they could take their 30% cut or we would be kicked out of the App Store.” Heinemeier-Hansson [Basecamp co-founder] noted.

“Basecamp may be one of the few companies willing to speak up, but we are far from the only ones dealing with these oppressive regimes,” he continued.

This legislation comes at a time when big tech companies are facing multiple antitrust investigations. Governments and even other companies accuse them of monopolistic practices. Speaking of Apple, most of the complaints are because developers can’t distribute iOS apps outside of the App Store, which requires them to agree to Apple’s terms and fees.

Similar bills have been proposed in other US states such as Florida, New York and North Dakota. However, none of them have been successful so far. Apple was recently forced to allow alternative payment systems in the Netherlands and South Korea, but even so the company says it will still charge developers the 30% commission.

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