U.S. Senate panel to debate app store reform bill

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WASHINGTON, Jan 17 (Reuters) - A U.S. Senate panel is set on Thursday to debate a bill that aims to rein in app stores of companies that some lawmakers say exert too much market control, including Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Alphabet Inc's Google (GOOGL.O).

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Marsha Blackburn said on Monday the Senate Judiciary Committee would consider the Open App Markets Act is backed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

Blumenthal, a Democrat, said in a statement the bill aims to "stop Apple and Google from crushing competitors and undercutting consumers. Breaking the ironclad grip of these two behemoths on the multi-billion dollar app market is long overdue."

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Blackburn, a Republican, said the hearing "bring us one step closer to holding big tech companies like Apple and Google accountable."

"Tech giants are forcing their own app stores on users at the expense of innovative start-ups," she said.

Google and Apple did not immediately comment Monday.

Apple said earlier its app store was "an unprecedented engine of economic growth and innovation, one that now supports more than 2.1 million jobs across all 50 states."

Google said previously that Android devices often come preloaded with two or more app stores and that app sellers can allow downloads without using Google's Play Store.

The lawmakers have said the bill would bar big app stores from requiring app providers to use their payment system and prohibit them from punishing apps that offer different prices or conditions through another app store or payment system.

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Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Robert Birsel

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