House lawmakers introduce five bipartisan bills to unwind tech monopolies

Filed in Internet by on June 12, 2021

TECH MONOPOLIES: House Democrats unveiled five new proposals on Friday aimed at limiting the dominance of giant internet companies, focusing on a variety of behaviors that antitrust advocates claim to stifle competition.

These proposals are the result of an unprecedented 16-month investigation by the House Judiciary Committee into the commercial practices of firms like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Congress is getting set to legislation based on the issues identified by that inquiry with this new slate of measures, and the action might transform the tech sector as we know it.

“Unregulated tech monopolies currently wield far too much control over our economy. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) stated in a statement Friday that they are in a unique position to pick winners and losers, destroy small firms, hike consumer costs, and throw people out of work. “Our plan will ensure that the wealthiest, most powerful tech giants play by the same rules as the rest of us.”

The package, which was revealed on Friday, contains five measures aimed at the many ways that internet corporations maintain their market dominance. One bill would allow the Justice Department or the Federal Trade Commission to break up Internet companies by requiring them to sell off aspects of their businesses that could cause a conflict of interest, such as Amazon Basics.

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Another law would prohibit businesses from favoring their own services over those of competitors, such as Google favoring its own items in search results over those of competitors. Another law would prohibit firms like Facebook from acquiring nascent competitors like Instagram, as it did in 2012.

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The final two bills are less contentious. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced a bill last week that would increase merger filing fees for large firms, allowing antitrust enforcers more money to take on lawsuits. On Wednesday, a bill similar to that one was introduced. The previous bill would require platforms to make the data they collect interoperable, making it easier for users to switch between services. Both Republicans and Democrats seemed ready to push data portability legislation through.

The House of Representatives’ technology study was a bipartisan effort, and while both parties agree on many of the findings, they disagree on some of the answers. The investigation resulted in a 400-page report from Democratic officials describing the investigation’s conclusions. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), the committee’s top Republican, released his own report, focused on how huge platforms purportedly suppress conservative discourse and urging fellow Republicans to promote competition reform as a solution.

It’s unclear how lawmakers intend to proceed with the legislation, but the multi-pronged strategy could make some reforms easier to implement in the coming Term. More moderate methods to increasing regulatory funding, such as Klobuchar’s, could garner widespread support in the House.

Each of Friday’s bills saw at least one Republican and one Democrat sign-on. It’s still uncertain whether each bill has the approval of all lawmakers. According to Axios, lobbyists for Rupert Murdoch’s media organizations, such as Fox Corp. and News Corp., urged House Republicans to support the proposals on Thursday.

Buck said in a statement Friday that “these corporations have maintained dominant strength in the Internet marketplace by engaging in a range of anti-competitive practices to discourage competition.” “We cannot afford to wait; we must act now.”

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