Tech Companies With Shady Data Practices Are Supporting Anti-Privacy Legislation
There’s an ongoing debate over the usefulness of the commission fees that application stores commonly charge the app creators that stock their digital shelves. In addition to these fees, operating systems (such as Apple’s iOS) intermediate many transactions between consumers and the apps they use. Notably, Spotify (a streaming giant), and Epic Games (the creator of Fortnite) have both made headlines for their condemnation of these fees.
What’s behind this apparent battle over fees and intermediation is the debate about whether third-party apps should have unrestricted access to consumers and their data. But, since many app developers have repeatedly misused user data, platforms’ restrictions on apps have proved crucial to maintaining robust privacy.
Both Spotify and Epic have faced allegations of privacy violations. For example, in 2022, Epic entered a $520 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for allegedly tricking underage users into making in-game purchases. This violated their privacy under The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, and turning a blind eye to parent complaints of bullying and harassment on the platform.
Then there’s the matter of how consumer complaints are solved. Recently, the FTC opened the claims process for refunds related to the Fortnite settlement. But consumers should not have to wade through the bureaucracy of a federal agency to receive refunds on unwanted purchases. Fortunately, app stores have already built numerous ways for consumers to claim refunds for those purchases or cancellation of subscriptions instantly. If a user accidentally buys some armor for a horse in a game, he can request a refund without chasing down the developer of the app. Particularly when the market has provided a more convenient solution, consumers (especially parents) deserve better than to be forced struggle a bloated government bureaucracy for recourse.
These two companies have supported stifling tech regulations from the European Union as well as legislation floating through Congress that share many commonalities with Europe’s failing laws. These anti consumers pieces of legislation may be heard about again this Fall. Be very wary because they are not the magical cures for what ails American innovation. Instead, these bills would hand free and open access to your devices to unvetted apps and platforms, leading to more privacy violations and shady business practices.
What critics of the current app-store model fail to understand is that robust consumer choice includes the ability to choose who somebody shares your personal data with and to utilize simple solutions for unwanted purchases.
Published on October 2, 2023