Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has secured another win for conservatives on tech policy, removing a loophole from a bill designed to regulate the app marketplaces of Apple and Google that would have allowed them to continue to censor in the name of “digital safety,” according to sources familiar with the matter.
The bill, the Open App Markets Act, protects the ability of app developers to “sideload” apps onto iPhones and Android devices, bypassing the chokehold of the two tech giants, who control 99 percent of smartphone operating systems worldwide.
An early version of the bill contained a big loophole: Google and Apple would still have been able to boot apps from their marketplaces if they did so in the name of “digital safety” — a term wide-open to interpretation, that has often been used by Big Tech as a pretext to censor conservatives. Even for non-political apps, Apple and Google’s current systems represent a strangehold on their businesses.
However, a new version of the Open App Markets Act seen by Breitbart News no longer contains the “digital safety” language. Sources familiar with the matter say Sen. Blackburn was responsible for this last-minute change. The new version of the bill is likely to be introduced via the “hotline” procedure in the Senate, meaning it will pass if no Senators object.
Left wing groups such as the Center for American Progress argued that the earlier version of the bill would ensure “hate speech” and “disinformation” were not protected because the loophole allowed platforms “to take action to protect the safety or security of its users.”
The removal of this censorship loophole, which was the number-one point of conservative criticism of the Open App Markets act, would be the second big win for Sen. Blackburn on tech policy this week.
On Tuesday, a last-ditch effort by supporters of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) to force the bill into law by attaching it to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) failed.
Sen. Blackburn was the first Republican Senator to come out against the bill, which would establish a gravy train of financial handouts and other favors from Big Tech to the media industry, when it was first introduced in the spring of 2021.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election.