Last week US lawmakers fired a shot across Big Tech’s bow, introducing five new bills designed to curb what lawmakers have described as “unregulated power” held by the firms of Silicon Valley. If enacted, the legislation would mark the biggest changes to US antitrust law in decades.
And while the legislation will affect all firms, their congressional architects have been open in naming the specific targets of the legislation.
“Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google have prioritized power over innovation and harmed American businesses and consumers in the process,” Rep. Ken Buck (R-Col.), the ranking member on the House antitrust subcommittee, said in a statement. “These companies have maintained monopoly power in the online marketplace by using a variety of anticompetitive behaviors to stifle competition.”
The new pieces of legislation would prohibit a dominant platform from discriminating against rivals by offering its own products preference (American Innovation and Choice Online Act); stop firms from using acquisitions as a means of neutralizing potential threats (Platform Competition and Opportunity Act); ban dominant platform from using their power across multiple types of business to give themselves unfair advantages (Ending Platform Monopolies Act); make it easier for consumers to move their data when they want to switch to a new provider (Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching Act); and change filing fees for the first time in two decades, providing the government funds to pursue antitrust actions.
Those bills are a long way and a lot of subcommittee hearings between now and becoming law — though regulation of Big Tech is one of the few areas where bipartisan action is still possible, as both Republicans and Democrats have qualms about the power Big Tech wields, and a determined interest in reining it in. And while the players most directly targeted by the new bills have not as yet offered any public comment, they will get their chance this week as they have been invited to appear before the House to testify.
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