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US legislators demand that the Department of Justice investigate Apple for barring Beeper’s iMessage software.

Apple’s decision to deactivate Beeper, the software that delivered iMessage to Android users, drew the ire of U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who accused the tech giant of anticompetitive activity. Now, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers has asked the DOJ to look into Apple’s “potentially anticompetitive treatment of the Beeper Mini messaging application,” noting that “interoperability and interconnections have long been key drivers of competition and consumer choice in communications services.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Mike Lee, Representative Jerry Nadler, and Representative Ken Buck signed the letter to US Assistant Attorney General Kanter. They remark in it that the Department of Commerce has defined Apple as a “gatekeeper” with a “monopoly position” in its mobile app ecosystem. They also cited Beeper CEO Eric Migicovsky’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights in December 2015, in which he expressed concern that “dominant messaging services would use their position to impose barriers to interoperability” and prevent Beeper from operating.

“Given Apple’s recent actions, that concern appears prescient,” according to the letter. Because Apple’s activities were anticompetitive, legislators forwarded the case to the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division for additional investigation.

The letter is the latest in a series of legal skirmishes between Beeper and Apple.

Beeper released Beeper Mini earlier this month, which used new technologies to enable support for blue bubble iMessage conversations for Android users. The startup’s earlier software, an aggregator of numerous messaging services, was subsequently dubbed Beeper Cloud, while Beeper Mini development continued with the intention of ultimately transitioning all users to the newer app.

Beeper initially charged customers $1.99 per month for access to Beeper Mini, but subsequently reduced the fee to nothing when Apple began to limit Beeper’s ability to properly send messages. Though the firm was able to get a patch out, Apple once again targeted Beeper’s customers, banning communications for around 5% of users, according to the company.

Apple said that Beeper’s approaches “posed significant risks to user security and privacy, including the potential for metadata exposure and enabling unwanted messages, spam, and phishing attacks,” and that it took “steps to protect” its customers as a result.

Eric Migicovsky, the creator and CEO of Beeper and the wristwatch Pebble, asked Apple to agree on an impartial third-party security assessment of Beeper’s software so he could confirm the program maintained end-to-end encryption, as Beeper guaranteed. Apple has yet to respond to his offer.

Given the possibility of Apple’s meddling, the Beeper Mini app is now functioning by enabling users to verify with their Apple ID and will stay free until further notice.

“A very strong signal from bipartisan House and Senate legislators.” Migicovsky said in a post on X about the letter, which CBS Mornings first revealed in a piece on the Beeper app, “There will be a lot more this week.”

Eltrys Team
Author: Eltrys Team

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