A senior executive at Apple has issued a blunt warning to European officials over their proposed regulation that will allow for the sideloading of apps.
Sideloading of apps refers to when users can install software from third party websites, avoiding having to use Apple (or Google’s) official app store to install an app.
Apple software senior vice president Craig Federighi said in a speech on Wednesday that allowing iPhone users to install software from the web would open “Pandora’s box” and could pose threats to entire networks of computers, CNBC reported.
Federighi reportedly made the remarks at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, and his speech represents an escalation in Apple’s rhetoric and challenge to European efforts to open up the Apple ecosystem.
Apple is particularly concerned about the Digital Markets Act, which CEO Tim Cook has previously warned would result in Apple being forced to allow “sideloading,” or the ability to install iPhone apps from the web instead of through Apple’s App Store.
“European policymakers have often been ahead of the curve,” Federighi reportedly said.
“But requiring sideloading on iPhone would be a step backward. Instead of creating choice, it could open up a Pandora’s Box of unreviewed malware and software.”
The DSA targets tech platforms that are used “as a vehicle for disseminating illegal content, or selling illegal goods or services online.”
The DMA on the other hand is designed to “addresses the negative consequences arising from certain behaviours by platforms acting as digital ‘gatekeepers’ to the single market.”
The Digital Markets Act could fine big tech firms up to 10 percent of their annual turnover for breaching new EU rules, which require them to open up their platforms to competition from third parties.
In a report filed with the US SEC last month, Apple specifically named the Digital Markets Act and said that, if enacted, it could require changes to Apple’s App Store that might harm the company’s financial results.
Federighi in his speech on Wednesday did not address the potential financial impact, CNBC report, but rather he argued sideloading would cause users to be tricked into downloading malware.
“Even if you have no intention of sideloading, people are routinely coerced or tricked into doing it,” Federighi reportedly said, citing malware on Google’s Android, which allows sideloading.
Google however warns users against doing so in system messages and pop-ups.
Federighi argued that although technically skilled people might be able to identify malware on the internet, their parents or children might still be fooled, making everyone’s iPhone data less secure.
“The fact is one compromised device including a mobile phone can pose a threat to an entire network,” Federighi said. “Malware in sideloaded apps can jeopardize government systems, affect enterprise networks, public utilities, the list goes on.”
“That one provision in the DMA would force every iPhone user into a landscape of professional con artists constantly trying to fool them,” Federighi reportedly said. He said users can choose between iPhones and Android phones that allow sideloading.