Apple gets support from former national security officials in Fortnite case

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The battle between Apple and Epic Games continues.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple won support in its case for control of its App Store on Thursday. In a series of documents related to Apple’s ongoing lawsuit against Fortnite maker Epic GamesA group of former national security officials, developers and corporate advocacy groups have widely said courts shouldn’t get in the way of Apple’s approach to managing apps on its iPhones and iPads.

The submissions, more than a dozen in total, echoed many of the concerns Apple raised since being sued by Epic on how it handles payments in its App Store. Apple says it should be allowed to moderate and control which apps can and cannot be offered on an iPhone. Epic says Apple’s approach is stifling competition.

A filing signed by former defense officials and heads of US government agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and National Security Council, told the court that forcing changes to the App Store of ‘Apple could lead to security issues including malware and spyware.

As Apple argued, the group said consumers should have the choice to buy products with a stronger approach to security. “If Epic were to prevail, competition for higher quality device security would be stifled and courts would be forced into undesirable regulatory postures that would open the door to greater risk of security threats,” the group wrote. .

Hit online game Roblox has written that its support for Apple comes out of concern for its many underage users. “Apple’s process for reviewing and approving apps available on the App Store improves safety and security and gives those apps greater legitimacy in the eyes of users,” Roblox wrote. “This is a significant benefit that all apps, including those from Roblox, enjoy by choosing to be part of Apple’s ecosystem.”

Epic declined to comment beyond its arguments already filed.

The briefings follow a series of arguments from Epic and Apple like they appealed a decision last year of a California district judge who broadly agreed with Apple’s arguments that it had not violated antitrust laws. The case is currently before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Read more: Apple Wins Legal Victory Over Epic in Fortnite Lawsuit: What You Need to Know

The two companies began suing each other in August 2020, when Apple kicked Fortnite out of its App Store over a disagreement over its payment processing systems. Apple requires developers selling digital items, such as new looks for characters in a game, to use its payment processing systems and pay commissions of between 15% and 30%, which Apple says helps finance the technology and administration of his store.

The case and its appeals process, which is expected to run through next year, have caught the attention of the tech industry, lawmakers, legal scholars and policy experts, hoping the case will help lay the foundations for updated approaches to antitrust lawsor potentially solidifying those already on the books.

As the case unfolds, Epic has also found defenders. Microsoft, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and 35 states backed the Fortnite maker in January, saying in their legal documents that “Apple’s conduct has harmed and harms mobile app developers and millions of citizens.” .

Read more: Epic’s battle with Apple takes a turn as 35 states back Fortnite maker

The state attorneys general further argued that Apple had monopolized app distribution and payment solutions built into iPhones, enabling it “to amass supra-competitive profits within the smartphone industry, which accounts for nearly of $1 trillion a year.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta raised concerns about the case Thursday, but did not take a clear side. Instead, he argued that the California Supreme Court should weigh about how his state’s unfair competition law applies to the case. The law “has protected countless Californians from illegal, unfair and fraudulent business practices,” he wrote. “It is critical that the Ninth Circuit, regardless of the outcome of this particular dispute, correctly interpret the law.” Besides being the home of Apple, California is also where the Fortnite case was filed.

The Justice Department raised its own concerns about the case in a filing earlier this year, though it did not take sides. The department wrote that the district court “made several legal errors that could jeopardize effective antitrust enforcement, particularly in the digital economy.” The DOJ specifically called the court’s interpretation of the Sherman Lawa key U.S. antitrust law passed in 1890, saying it had been read “narrowly and erroneously”.

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