On occasion, Apple has nothing against dirty tricks. We have seen the company campaign both for and against a bill on environmental protection in the United States. The new example given today by Bloomberg is quite edifying in its description of the opaque workings of lobbying in the United States.
The App Association (ACT) presents itself as an advocacy group for “small developers” (the association claims 5,000 members). The lobby is regularly invited to participate in the work of the US Congress, it also organizes meetings between developers and the legislator.
Despite the front defense of independent developers, ACT’s proposals are generally aligned with Apple’s agenda. The association, for example, opposed the Open App Markets Act, a bill currently being debated which aims to untie the links between Apple and the App Store. The arguments put forward by the ACT are those of Apple: opening the store would threaten the confidentiality and security of the App Store.
If ACT is so close to Apple’s proposals, it’s for a good reason: the manufacturer provides the group with more than half of its budget. In 2020, this budget was $9 million. The ACT would not specify the amount paid by Apple which, according to the sources of Bloomberg, would in fact settle almost all of the bills. However, Apple is not a member of the association, unlike AT&T, Intel or Verizon.
Apple did not want to comment on the story, however the ACT denies being a false nose of the manufacturer. ” Our job is to make sure we pay attention to the impact, unintended or not, of government decisions on all those small businesses that develop cool software. “, explains Morgan Reed, the president of the association.
He also ensures that the positions of the ACT are taken according to its members, without Apple being involved. But the group also takes into account the manufacturer’s arguments.
Lobbying: record spending for Apple in Washington
However, the story could be even more complicated. 9to5Mac indeed reports that Apple is sponsoring – and this time it is transparent – the AllThingsFRAND initiative set up by ACT which aims to reform FRAND patents (“fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” patents). Can the money paid by Apple as part of this mission absorb more than half of the association’s annual budget? The question has no answer at the moment.