Congress Introduces 5 Antitrust Bills To Curb Big Tech
- House lawmakers have unveiled bills to strengthen the power of tech companies in the online marketplace.
- In recent years, the “Big Four” have come under scrutiny by Congress over competition concerns.
- This new legislation would be an important step towards releasing the power of technology.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
House lawmakers on Friday unveiled five bills designed to curb big tech companies and loosen their grip on digital industries.
The legislation is aimed specifically at Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook, all of which have come under intense scrutiny for antitrust concerns in recent years. The bills enjoy some bipartisan support and would give regulators more power to prevent tech companies from dominating the market too much, their sponsors said.
“Right now, unregulated technology monopolies have too much power over our economy,” Representative David Cicillin, chairman of the House antitrust subcommittee, said in a press release. “They are in a unique position to pick winners and losers, destroy small businesses, raise consumer prices and put people out of work.”
Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
The five bills are described below:
- The “U.S. Online Choice and Innovation Act“would prohibit companies from discriminating against smaller competitors and prioritizing their products over others.
- The “Competition Law and Platform Opportunities“would allow regulators to prevent dominant firms from acquiring potential competitors.
- The “Law on the end of platform monopolies“would prohibit companies from crushing smaller competitors and undermining fair and free online competition.
- The “Law on Increasing Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Switching of Services (ACCESS)“would make it easier for new companies to enter the market by changing the requirements that affect costs for companies.
- The “An Act respecting the modernization of merger filing fees“would update the filing fees for mergers” for the first time in two decades, “according to the press release, so that regulators can better enforce antitrust laws.
This new legislation would mark an important step in establishing regulations for the burgeoning and historically unregulated tech industry.
Congress has cracked down on Big Tech harshly recently, particularly in 2019 and 2020, when it conducted a months-long survey of businesses about online competition.
Each company was investigated for a different reason: Google for its dominance in ads and online search, Apple for its App Store policies, Amazon for its treatment of third-party sellers, and Facebook for its acquisitions. potential competitors like Instagram, WhatsApp and Giphy.
The CEOs of the “Big Four” first testified before Congress in July as part of the investigation.
House lawmakers released a report after their investigation that companies had become “the kind of monopolies we last saw in the age of oil barons and railroad tycoons.”
The four companies also face antitrust lawsuits from state attorneys general and other government agencies. Last month, Amazon was hit with a lawsuit from Washington, DC Attorney General Karl Racine, who accused the company of abusing his power by requiring its third-party sellers to agree not to offer their products. at a lower price on other websites.
And Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit against Google on Tuesday, accusing the company of prioritizing its products, like Google Flights, ahead of competitors like Orbitz or Travelocity.
Technology regulation is largely a bipartisan issue
Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle agree the industry needs oversight. But they have different reasons.
Many Republicans believe Internet platforms discriminate against conservative users and serve a liberal agenda. They cited examples such as Twitter reporting President Donald Trump’s May 2020 posts on the legitimacy of postal voting for the presidential election. Another example they use to support their belief is that Twitter is blocking the URL to a New York Post article about President Joe Biden’s son.
In Friday’s press release announcing the antitrust bills, Republican Representative Lance Gooden of Texas said, “Big tech has systematically suppressed conservative voices and violated consumer privacy. We must stop their destructive behavior and preserve the constitutional rights of all Americans.
Apple also removed Speak from its App Store after the Jan.6 uprising, as it said the platform did not crack down on violent messages enough.
But while some Republicans say social media companies too “censor” content, many Democratic lawmakers say platforms aren’t doing enough to control disinformation and hate speech.