It was clear from the beginning that an attempt by State Reps. Regina Cobb and Leo Biasiucci to take on Apple and Google in the Arizona State Legislature would be akin to a David-vs-Goliath fight. Cobb and Biasiucci, both from Mohave County, introduced a bill this year that would have discouraged certain fees by technology companies that operate their own app distribution platforms —like Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store. The legislators contend that the companies require third-party app developers to use their proprietary payment processing systems, charging fees as high as 30 percent. Their bill would have required those technology companies to allow small developers to use alternative payment options to customers living in Arizona.

No surprise, the bill didn’t get very far. It made its way through the House and was scheduled to be voted on by the State Commerce Committee on March 11, but it was held from a vote before that could happen.

According to The American Prospect, a self-described progressive publication that focuses on public policy, it didn’t take long for the technology companies to respond to the bill. The publication reports that within days of the filing of House Bill 2005, Apple and Google went to work hiring local lobbyists and consultants, and Cobb was soon inundated with “very strong” text messages and Tweets criticizing her bill.

Cobb says the heavy-handed response has made her even more determined to try again. And she should. Apple and Google have created effective monopolies by setting such strict limits on what independent users of their products can do. What’s more is that Cobb’s bill is an example of pro-small-business, anti-monopoly legislation that both parties should be able to get behind. Truth is, they already are. Cobb’s bill got supportive attention from Democrat Elizabeth Warren in a March tweet, and similar bills have been proposed in states like New York, Massachusetts, Illinois and North Dakota.

She’s helped to get the ball rolling on an important issue. Arizona legislators need to ignore Apple’s and Google’s highly paid lobbyist and resurrect this bill.

It’ll protect the state’s small businesses and consumers against high fees, and it will set a great example of how state’s can fight big tech — something that is bound to come up again and again.

— Today’s News-Herald


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