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Supreme Court OKs Apple Store antitrust lawsuit; case raises security questions

A U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing an antitrust lawsuit to proceed against Apple has reportedly left some cybersecurity experts wondering how users may be affected if the courts eventually force the company to allow iOS apps to be sold in third-party stores.

In a 5-4 decision this past Monday, the court upheld a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that iPhone users who download apps from the Apple Store are direct customers of Apple, which entitles them to sue the company for allegedly creating a monopoly on iOS apps and driving up prices. Apple, the defendant, had unsuccessfully argued that the app developers were actually the direct customers, while purchasers were indirect customers.

The case, Apple v. Pepper, now reverts back to the lower courts. If ultimately customers win the right to purchase iOS apps via third-party stores, that freedom could come with a price, as those apps would not be subjected to the Apple store's secure screening process, The Hill has reported.

"While Apple's review process can seem restrictive and arbitrary in some cases — it is one of the most stringent in the industry — it also actually helps keep users secure," said Renaud Deraison, co-founder and CTO of Tenable, as quoted in the report. "If Apple were mandated to allow third-party app stores to exist, the likelihood of malware-ridden apps would be high, as we've seen on platforms with multiple stores. That level of autonomy is definitely not in the customers' best interest."

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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