US Attorney General Merrick Garland Takes on Apple in DOJ Press Conference

US Attorney General Merrick Garland has kicked off a Department of Justice (DOJ) press conference on the antitrust lawsuit against Apple. In his opening remarks, Garland accused Apple of maintaining monopoly power in the smartphone market, not by staying ahead of the competition on merits, but by violating federal antitrust law.

Garland also referenced the so-called Apple tax, a fee that the company charges for in-app purchases. He criticized the limited functionality of green texts between Android and iPhone devices, citing pixelated and grainy videos and the inability for users to edit messages or see typing indicators.

The Attorney General further alleged that Apple compromises security and privacy to maintain its monopoly power. He explained how Apple "inserts itself into the process" of transactions through its digital wallets, even when consumers may prefer to share that information solely with their bank.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco accused Apple of maintaining "a chokehold on competition," stating that Apple has "smothered an entire industry" by shifting from revolutionizing the smartphone market to stalling its advancement.

The DOJ drew parallels between the Apple suit and its earlier Microsoft challenge. Acting Associate Attorney General Benjamin Mizer stated that the new complaint alleges that Apple has engaged in many of the same tactics that Microsoft used.

Jonathan Kanter, assistant attorney general for the Antitrust Division, pointed out that Apple was a "significant beneficiary" of the DOJ's suit against Microsoft more than 20 years ago, which paved the way for Apple to launch iTunes, iPod, and eventually the iPhone. He described the new suit as a way "to protect competition and innovation for the next generation of technology."

Kanter also highlighted how Apple has felt threatened by easy ways to switch between iPhone and Android. He referred to emails between an Apple executive and then-CEO Steve Jobs in 2010, lamenting a Kindle ad where a user switches seamlessly between the Kindle app on an iPhone and an Android.

Addressing the massive resource imbalance between the DOJ and Apple, Garland emphasized the importance of allocating resources to protect the American people, especially when individual Americans have no ability to protect themselves.

The press conference concluded with Kanter stating that Apple's choices have made its system less private. He said the lawsuit explains that the illegal and exclusionary conduct that Apple has engaged in is not necessary to protect security and privacy. In fact, in many instances, Apple's conduct has made its ecosystem less private and less secure.

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