After several senators criticized the company, Apple said on Sunday it would send its chief compliance officer to an April 21st hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the office of Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) confirmed.
Leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook on Friday demanding that the company send a representative to the hearing, saying Apple was refusing to participate. In the letter, Klobuchar and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) say Apple “abruptly” decided not to provide a witness for the hearing on digital markets focused on Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store.
“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,” the senators wrote in the letter. “We strongly urge Apple to reconsider its position and to provide a witness to testify before the Subcommittee in a timely manner.”
But on Sunday, Apple sent a letter to the senators saying it was “surprised” by their letter and that it had intended to participate, but simply sought a change in the date. “We have a deep respect for your role and process on these matters,” the letter reads, according to Bloomberg. The company will make Kyle Andeer— who Apple says has represented the company before the US House of Representatives and several states—available on April 21st. “We look forward to sharing our perspective on our App Store,” the letter states.
Lee said in a joint statement with Klobuchar emailed to The Verge on Sunday that he was glad Apple had “changed course and agreed to testify before the committee.”
Klobuchar said in the statement the hearing will explore “whether Apple and Google are using their power as gatekeepers to charge high fees and impose restrictions that suppress competition in mobile applications and related markets, and both companies‘ participation in the hearing is necessary.” She added that the companies “have the power to control how and if mobile app developers can reach app users, and ultimately, which apps become successful.”
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge on Sunday. Its App Store practices, including the 30 percent fees it charges developers, have been under scrutiny from lawmakers in recent months. Apple also has been battling with Fortnite publisher Epic Games, which sued the iPhone maker for what it claims are violations of antitrust law. That trial is slated to get underway May 3rd.
Update April 11th 5:32PM ET: Adds statement from Sens. Klobuchar and Lee