Apple’s Half-Hearted Concession To Devs And Lawmakers; Roe v. Wading Into The Muck Now

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Ripe For Change

Earlier this year, as part of a concession to antitrust regulators, Apple started allowing certain developers to avoid paying its 30% App Store fee by redirecting users to external sites in order to subscribe – and now Netflix is taking advantage.

Previously, Apple’s official line was to bar developers from offering alternative subscription methods outside the App Store.

Apple’s support comes grudgingly, and only after both legislators and antitrust enforcers got involved, 9to5Mac reports. Earlier this month, the EU passed the Digital Markets Act to regulate “gatekeeper” platforms like Google, Apple and Meta.

Apple has pushed back (or ignored) rulings that mandate third-party payment services or that would allow access to apps outside the App Store. Apple poses the issue as a data security and privacy risk, though no doubt the billions it makes in services-related revenue is a big part of its stance.

Apple warns users who are shuttled by Netflix to an alternative payment service that “Apple is not responsible for the security of transactions made with the developer, ‘Netflix.’” 

The no-nonsense language – and scare quotes around Netflix – are reminiscent of the notifications that browser and email inbox operators use to warn of potential security issues in a URL.

It’s important for Apple to protect users from fraudulent apps, of which there are many, even in the security-minded App Store – but Netflix ain’t one of them.

Tinfoil Hat Reality

On a recent episode of AdExchanger’s The Big Story podcast, the editorial team speculated on how unprepared app and web publishers are for a post-Roe legal shakeout. But what sounded like tinfoil-hat conspiracy theories just a few weeks ago may prove understated. Many states already have laws to prosecute women who seek abortions or physicians, pharmacists and others who enable the procedure. But South Carolina is a trendsetter (of sorts) with a proposed law criminalizing apps and publishers that help women obtain information about an abortion.

The law would target people or businesses “hosting or maintaining an internet website, providing access to an internet website or providing an internet service purposefully directed to a pregnant woman who is a resident of this State that provides information on how to obtain an abortion.” That’s a wide catchall potentially encompassing social media, cloud services and many other tech companies.

If passed, the law would be challenged and possibly reversed by a federal court – but, eventually, would likely reach the Supreme Court.

President Biden can protect pharmacists (whose standards are enforced by the Food and Drug Administration) and order attorneys general not to prosecute state offenders, but a reelection loss would have serious legal implications for liberal-staffed publishers, tech companies and social platforms.

Don’t Be A Poor Sport

The end of legacy TV is nigh. 

Which is to say, Big Tech is coming for sports. 

Live sports is the foundation of linear television. Last year, 95 of the 100 most-viewed TV programs were live sports, The New York Times reports – and that was an off-year in sports, with an Olympics ratings flop.

Many major sports distribution deals are up around now, and Apple, Amazon and YouTube are the frontrunners every time with their checkbooks out. Major League Soccer went to Apple. The NFL’s Thursday Night Football package went to Amazon, with games exclusively streamed online for the first time in NFL history.

The big prize right now is the NFL Sunday Ticket package currently owned by DirecTV, which bowed out rather than bid against Apple, Amazon and Google.

Big Tech has deeper pockets and recoups more value from ads and content without passing costs to fans. The DirecTV NFL package is an extra $294 per year on the cable bill and yet still lost $500 million per year for DirecTV. Apple could eat that entire cost and come out on top if, of course, Apple Plus becomes a must-have subscription for millions more people, which it will be if it’s the only place you can watch NFL games on Sunday nights.

“It’s hard when you’re competing with entities that aren’t playing by the same financial rules,” says Bob Iger, the former CEO of Disney (which owns ESPN).

But Wait, There’s More!

Agencies are unimpressed by brand safety controls on social platforms. [Digiday]

Meta quietly shut down Tuned, its social app for couples … yet another app no one knew existed. [TechCrunch]

The European Data Protection Supervisor on current developments and trends related to digital identity and data protection. [blog]

The baby boom of streaming services continues with the rollout of NFL Plus. [Adweek]

Security chiefs warn that the bloated cybersecurity market needs to learn to work together, rather than grandstand. [WSJ]

A Faustian bargain: Is preemption too high a price for a federal privacy law? [Teach Privacy]

You’re Hired!

Theorem names Reem Al-Basri as new head of digital media strategy. [release]

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