Apple's App Store Monopoly is a Human Rights Disaster

For more than a decade, Apple has forced its users to buy iOS software exclusively from the App Store, unlike Android phones, which allow users to sideload software. This has enabled Apple to exert unparalleled control over what software its more than 1 billion iPhone users can access and reap a 30 percent cut from all major App Store sales. The App Store isn’t just a storefront. It is a chokepoint that Apple wields to control the Internet.

Profit Without Protection

The App Store generated $72.3 billion in revenue in 2020, with Apple raking in an estimated 78% profit margin by skimming a 30% cut of all major app sales. Apple claims this is the price of vetting these apps for security, but security experts disagree. Meanwhile, the App Store is flooded with scam apps that cost users millions each year, and Apple's own iMessage is dangerously insecure.

$72.3 Billion in Revenue

78% Profit Margin

Censorship Central

The App Store fast-tracks authoritarian censorship that would otherwise be costly and incomplete. All it takes for a government to silence millions is an email to Apple–whether it’s to ban VPNs, news apps, voter guides, or encrypted messengers. Dictators don’t need expensive censorship infrastructure when Apple wields such complete control and will censor for them. Visit to learn more.

Anti-Human Rights

Apple helps governments isolate, silence, and oppress political opposition, protesters, and minority groups. Apple has censored Tibetans & religious groups in China and LGBTQ+ content on a staggering scale globally. Local laws may require this, but being a censorship chokepoint is Apple’s choice, a choice made for profit that destroys lives.

Anti-Consumer and Anti-Competitive

The App Store imposes monopoly rent on its $78 billion market. Through its complete control over the market, Apple has the power to take a 30% cut from sales, raising costs for developers and consumers while adding little or no value to the market.

False Moral Arbiter

Through the App Store, Apple can deem entire categories of software unfit for users for containing “objectionable content” or being “obscene.” It acts as the moral arbiter for the world, banning acts of expression (nudity, for example) that are taboo in the US but accepted elsewhere.

Coercive Spyware

The App Store requires elaborate systems of control that let Apple install unremovable spyware on iPhones. This control is an existential threat to privacy and endangers everyone from LGBTQ+ youth to human rights activists fighting authoritarianism.

Hurts Us All, Even Android Users

iPhone is more popular than Android in several profitable areas, such as the United States. So businesses that need widespread adoption must build for iPhone to survive. Apple may not control what Android users install, but Apple wields significant veto power over what Android apps get built and survive. There’s no escape.

Coming Soon: Even Worse

Apple has never asserted chokepoint power over Macs, but with each release of macOS, they inch closer to doing so. And just as the iPhone made Apple a leader in mobile, a popular AR/VR product could replace desktop and mobile computing entirely, crowning a new winner with even more power than Apple has today. That winner could be Apple, or Zuckerberg’s Meta, or even China-based ByteDance. Even if you like Apple, you may not like who controls the chokepoint next.

The Internet is meant to be free and open

The App Store is a walled prison. It gives Apple unprecedented power to decide what we can see and do online. It squeezes small businesses, hurts competition, and hurts consumers. It puts vulnerable groups at risk and helps dictators censor democracy movements, endangering us all. It does little for security or quality. At any moment, just one hit product could put the App Store's power (or more) into the hands of an even worse tech giant. The chokepoint must end. Here. Now.

Tell your Lawmaker: Free our iPhones

Apple abuses the App Store to gouge users and squeeze out competitors by wielding its monopolistic power to rake in billions in profit. Apple willingly engages in censorship on behalf of authoritarian governments, from blocking encrypted messengers and VPN services to LGBTQ+ apps, to ensure it maintains access to its markets. And it kills innovation through a rent-seeking business model that threatens developers with a constant shadow of removal for crossing the opaque and often arbitrary policies it imposes. Congress has already started to investigate Apple for abusing its monopolistic power. It’s time they took action and forced Apple to open up the App Store and free our iPhones everywhere by passing the Open App Markets Act. Sign below to call on Congress to force Apple to free your iPhone.

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