Should the government oversee app stores? What the hell *are* app stores?

If providers were to be prohibited from denying or restricting access to applications in their capacity as network providers, should they nevertheless have discretion regarding what apps are included in app stores that they operate?” the document asks.

Today the FCC punted on whether it should give itself the authority to create Net Neutrality rules, creating another 85-day period for public comment. Don’t know about you, but I feel like the public has been pretty clear about what it wants the FCC to do: Reclassify broadband and create strong Net Neutrality rules.

Buried in the Hill’s story about the decision, though, was an interesting quote from the FCC’s document describing its proposed rules.

In addition to many other questions, the FCC is asking whether app stores (like Apple’s and Google’s) should have the freedom to deny certain apps from appearing, or whether the FCC should step in to make those platforms open and available to all app creators.

This raises the larger question of what, exactly, app stores are in the first place. Given their proprietary status, should they not be regulated at all, or are they becoming public utilities — like Facebook — that should be protected like other public platforms? And if the latter is true, should the FCC, the FTC or some other government body step in to guarantee that these platforms aren’t restricting people’s right of expression? Should app stores be regulated or should they be left alone?

Big questions.

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