Apple ‘abruptly’ refuses to testify in upcoming Senate app stores hearing

In April, there will be a hearing on digital markets, including app stores and digital competition, led by the Senate Judiciary Committee in the United States. And while Apple has been engaged in preliminary talks, it looks like the company has made a decision regarding being a witness.

According to a letter sent by a pair of senators to Apple on Friday (via The Verge), Apple has “abruptly” decided to not provide a witness in the upcoming hearing on digital markets, digital competition, and app stores. The letter, sent by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT), says Apple says it won’t participate in the hearing.

The letter was addressed to Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, and is essentially saying Apple should “reconsider” its new position to not help with the process.

From the letter:

Apple has been aware for weeks that the Subcommittee was planning a hearing on this topic and was engaged in discussions with our staff regarding who would testify on Apple’s behalf. Yet a little more than two weeks [16 days] before the planned hearing, Apple abruptly declared that it would not provide any witness to testify at a hearing in April.

The letter goes on, addressing the fact that Apple is currently facing ongoing litigation regarding its own App Store regulations, but says Apple should not use that as an excuse not to participate in April:

Finally, your staff has noted ongoing litigation as the reason for not providing a witness this month. Many other representatives of companies, both inside and outside of the technology sector, have testified before Congress in similar circumstances, and your staff was aware of the ongoing litigation when they were initially working with us to provide a witness. Apple’s sudden change in course to refuse to provide a witness to testify before the Subcommittee on app store competition issues in April, when the company is clearly willing to discuss them in other public forums, is unacceptable.

Apple is facing heavy scrutiny for its App Store and the rules it has in place for the digital storefront. One of the more prominent attempts at forcing Apple’s hand to make changes is the lawsuit brought against Apple by Epic Games in 2020. Apparently Apple sees those ongoing lawsuits and scrutiny as a reason to stay out of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on a similar matter.

Apple still has time to change its mind, but, as of right now, that does not look like it will happen.