US lawmakers call for DOJ probe into Apple’s blocking of Beeper’s iMessage app

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    A bipartisan group of US senators and representatives has asked the Justice Department to look into whether Apple violated antitrust laws by seeking to prevent Beeper Mini’s access to iMessage. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT), as well as Representatives Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Ken Buck (R-CO), have urged an associate attorney general to investigate “potentially anticompetitive conduct” by Apple.

    Several efforts have been made in recent months to offer Android users with access to iMessage via workarounds. Beeper said earlier this month that it had reverse-engineered the iMessage protocol and could now support it on Android devices. Within a few days, Beeper Mini’s iMessage integration began to malfunction, and Apple quickly announced (without explaining) that it had banned an iMessage vulnerability.

    It didn’t take long for Beeper to discover yet another technique to enable iMessage to operate on Android, however this time an Apple ID was necessary. Last week, the business stated that it suspected Apple of “deliberately blocking iMessages from being delivered” to around 5% of Beeper Mini customers, and that it was working on a solution.

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was drawn in by the back and forth between Beeper and Apple. “Texts with green bubbles are less secure.” So, why would Apple prohibit a new software that allows Android users to communicate with iPhone users using iMessage? “Big Tech executives are squeezing competitors to protect profits,” Warren wrote on X. “Chatting between different platforms should be easy and secure.”

    Last year, when asked about enhancing iOS-Android communication compatibility, Apple CEO Tim Cook told a journalist to “buy your mom an iPhone.”

    “Interoperability and interconnection have long been key drivers of competition and consumer choice in communications services,” senators said in a letter to the Justice Department. “But consumers will never benefit from competition if dominant firms are allowed to snuff out that competition at its incipiency.”

    As a result, the authorities are “concerned that Apple’s recent actions to disable Beeper Mini will harm competition, eliminate consumer options, and discourage future innovation and investment in interoperable messaging services.” We also fear that these measures may freeze future investment and innovation from those attempting to compete with established digital gatekeepers. As a result, we send this case to the Antitrust Division to investigate whether Apple’s possibly anticompetitive behavior violates antitrust statutes.”

    At least one pledge has been made by Apple to improve message interoperability. After years of aggressively lobbying Apple, the corporation has promised to embrace the RCS protocol beginning in 2024. Adopting RCS will result in more secure texting between iPhone and Android, as well as higher-quality media sharing.

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