FCC investigating Google Voice rejection by Apple and AT&T

The recent rejection of Google Voice from the App Store, by Apple, was rather controversial. Even die-hard Apple fans seem to be outraged by it, and many suspect that AT&T is behind it. It wasn't particularly explained as to why the application was rejected, but a Google spokesperson simply said that it wasn't approved. It seems consumers aren't the only ones a bit troubled by this; according to Wired, the FCC is now getting involved, and has sent letters to both Apple and AT&T (and even Google, to get their explanation) demanding them to reveal what exactly happened.

The new chairman of the FCC, Julius Genachowski, expressed his unhappiness with the actions of the two companies, though he didn't actually explain what would happen on the part of his organization. In a press statement, he said, "Recent news reports raise questions about practices in the mobile marketplace. The Wireless Bureau's inquiry letters to these companies about their practices reflect the Commission's proactive approach to getting the facts and data necessary to make the best policy decisions on behalf of the American people." Of course, the FCC isn't just interested in Google Voice alone, but rather the other applications that have been rejected, and whether AT&T has played any part. You can find their letter to Apple here, and their letter to AT&T here.

As you'll be aware, Apple has made many rather questionable decisions regarding applications, and they seem to tie in with AT&T each time; the FCC is interested in this, as Wired points out, with their letter saying, "Are there any terms in AT&T's customer agreements that limit customer usage of certain third-partyapplications? If so, please indicate how consumers are informed of such limitations and whether such limitations are posted on the iTunes website as well. In general, what is AT&T's role in certifying applications on devices that run over AT&T's 3G network? What, if any, applications require AT&T's approval to be added to a device? Are there any differences between AT&T's treatment of the iPhone and other devices used on its 3G network?"

The FCC isn't stopping here; they've asked Google about the application which they've denied too, wanting explanations on this also. The latest date that the replies can be submitted by the three companies is August 21, and, unfortunately for the trio, the feds will turn away answers that are secretive. However, according to Wired, they can allow some information to be kept under seal.

It's certainly good for consumers that this is happening, and be sure to keep an eye on the Neowin homepage around the deadline date for a development on this.

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