Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have presented five different bills that seek to tame the power of the world’s largest technology companies, in the biggest legislative threat to Big Tech in years.
If passed, the proposals together constitute the biggest shock of U.S. monopoly law in a generation, limiting the takeovers of the tech industry of the type that have cemented Facebook’s dominance of social media and limiting capacity. of Apple, Amazon and Google to use their platforms to promote their products.
“Right now, unregulated technology monopolies have too much power over our economy,” said David Cicilline, the Democratic chairman of the antitrust subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives, when announcing the plans Friday.
Big tech companies “are in a unique situation to pick winners and losers, destroy small businesses, raise prices to consumers, and put people out of work,” he said.
U.S. politicians have for years promised to pass key technology regulations, such as a digital privacy law, but have been hampered by a lack of bipartisan agreement on the issue.
Members of the House who stand to support the five projects, including both Democrats and Republicans, are a sign of the anger felt in both parties toward global technology companies.
Ken Buck, the senior Republican on the antitrust subcommittee, said: “Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google have given priority to power over innovation and hurting American businesses and consumers in the process.”
The bills will adopt several recommendations made in a 448-page report published by the Cicilline subcommittee. last year, which accused all four companies of abusing their market power and followed hearings including one with the four executives. This report was signed only by Democrats, suggesting that Republican members of Congress have changed their position.
Details of the five invoices
The first of five factors will stop companies from using their platforms to increase their own products. Amazon has been particularly criticized for using its top-of-the-line online store to give importance to the products the company has made. Last year’s report found that Amazon regularly uses data from third-party sellers to help improve and sell its own products.
The second prevents large technology companies from buying potential competitors. This project reflects the anger on Capitol Hill that Facebook has been allowed to buy WhatsApp and Instagram, helping to cement its power on social media.
The third will stop companies from using their platforms and products to reinforce the other products they own. Google, for example, has been accused of manipulating its search engine to highlight its own products such as Google Shopping, when those services would not normally be ranked highly in Google search.
The fourth project requires companies to make it easier for customers to take their data and profiles online and turn them into another service.
The fifth would make it more expensive to file certain mergers, in an effort to give the justice department and the Federal Trade Commission more money to pursue enforcement actions.
If it is passed by the House of Representatives, the main obstacle for bills to become law would be in the Senate, where Republicans have enough votes to file new legislation. Mitch McConnell, leader of the Senate Republicans, is generally considered a supporter of big business, but has said relatively little about it. Big Tech.
Neil Bradley, policy chief of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement: “Bills that target specific companies, rather than focus on business practices, are simply bad policy and are fundamentally unjust and could be considered unconstitutional ”.
Google declined to comment. Facebook, Apple and Amazon have not responded to requests to do so.
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