House lawmakers today announced sweeping bipartisan legislation aimed at big tech that if passed, they said, would “expand opportunities for consumers, workers, and small business owners.”
Sentiment against the massive sway of these companies, among the biggest and most influential in the world, has sparked state and federal lawsuits, antitrust probes and legislation in the Senate as well. Lawmakers say tech giants are acting as unregulated monopolies engaged in anti-competitive conduct.
“Right now, unregulated tech monopolies have too much power over our economy. They are in a unique position to pick winners and losers, destroy small businesses, raise prices on consumers, and put folks out of work. Our agenda will level the playing field and ensure the wealthiest, most powerful tech monopolies play by the same rules as the rest of us,” said House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D-RI).
He led the push, along with Ranking Member Ken Buck (D-CO), that resulted in a package of five bills. It followed a 16-month investigation by the committee that concluded last year into the state of competition in the digital marketplace.
“Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google have prioritized power over innovation and harmed American businesses and consumers in the process. These companies have maintained monopoly power in the online marketplace by using a variety of anticompetitive behaviors to stifle competition. This legislation breaks up Big Tech’s monopoly power to control what Americans see and say online, and fosters an online market that encourages innovation and provides American small businesses with a fair playing field,” said Buck.
The bills include:
-The American Innovation and Choice Online Act: prohibits discriminatory conduct by dominant platforms, including a ban on self-preferencing “and picking winners and losers online.”
-The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act: prohibits acquisitions of competitive threats by dominant platforms, as well acquisitions that expand or entrench the market power of online platforms.
–The Ending Platform Monopolies Act: eliminates the ability of dominant platforms to leverage their control over across multiple business lines to self-preference and disadvantage competitors in ways that undermine free and fair competition.
The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act: promotes competition online by lowering barriers to entry and switching costs for businesses and consumers through interoperability and data portability requirements.
–The Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act: updates filing fees for mergers for the first time in two decades to ensure that Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission have the resources they need to aggressively enforce the antitrust laws. It raises the fees for mergers valued at over $1 billion and lowers them for deals of under $500,000.