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Lawmakers Question Apple’s Limits on Android Access to iMessage

Apple building

A group of bipartisan lawmakers has called for a probe into whether Apple violated antitrust laws by shutting down third-party applications that enabled Android devices to use the Apple’s iMessage service. 

This move by Apple has sparked a debate about competition, consumer choice and the future of interoperable messaging services, Bloomberg reported Monday (Dec. 18). 

Beeper Mini, the latest app that enabled iMessage functionality on Android devices, recently stopped working, according to the report. 

Apple justified its decision to shut down the app by stating that third-party apps like Beeper Mini posed a threat to user privacy and security, the report said. 

However, the lawmakers who signed the letter, including Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar and Republican Senator Mike Lee, argue that Apple’s actions harm competition, limit consumer choices, and discourage innovation and investment in interoperable messaging services, per the report. 

The lawmakers’ letter, addressed to the Justice Departments top antitrust official Jonathan Kanter, highlights concerns about Apple’s tactics and their potential impact on future investment and innovation, according to the report. 

The Justice Department has been quietly investigating Apple’s App Store practices since 2019, and this latest development adds to the scrutiny surrounding the company’s business practices, the report said. 

Apple has long declined to expand its encrypted messaging service, iMessage, to Android devices, per the report. Critics argue that this lack of interoperability between iPhones and Android phones compromises messaging security. 

Eric Migicovsky, co-founder of Beeper, remained optimistic about bypassing Apple’s restrictions in the future, according to the report. 

In a report posted on Dec. 9, Apple told Bloomberg News that by shuttering third-party apps that let Android and iPhone users communicate via iMessage, it has “taken steps to protect our users by blocking techniques that exploit fake credentials in order to gain access to iMessage.” 

The tech giant added that “these techniques posed significant risks to user security and privacy, including the potential for metadata exposure and enabling unwanted messages, spam and phishing attacks.” 

In July, Apple threatened to remove both iMessage and another messaging service, FaceTime, from the United Kingdom if the British government’s proposed updates to the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) 2016 are made law. 

The government’s proposals would require messaging services to clear security features with the Home Office and would allow that office to require that the services disable the features.