On Monday, October 18, a bipartisan group of US senators formally introduced a bill that would bar Big Tech platforms, like Amazon and Google, from favoring their products and services.
According to Reuters, the bill follows others introduced with the goal of reining in the market power of big tech firms. So far none became law, although one, which would increase resources for antitrust enforcers, passed the Senate.
Senators Amy Klobuchar and Chuck Grassley’s bill would prohibit platforms from requiring companies operating on their sites to purchase the platform’s goods or services and ban them from biasing search results to favor the platform.
Amazon said in a statement that the bill, if it became law, “would harm consumers and the more than 500,000 US small and medium-sized businesses that sell in the Amazon store, and it would put at risk the more than 1 million jobs created by those businesses.”
Google stated that the measure would make it more difficult for companies to offer free services — Google’s search and maps are both free — and would make “those services less safe, less private and less secure.”
Klobuchar chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee while Grassley is the top Republican on the full committee. Co-sponsors include five Democrats and five Republicans.
The bill would have profound implications for companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google which all run their own marketplaces for products or information. Those companies have been accused of ranking their own products higher than rivals’ in an attempt to generate more profits for themselves.
Third-party sellers on Amazon, for example, have suspected the platform ranks its own similar private-label products over their own. Travel or local search sites like Yelp and Tripadvisor have complained that Google unfairly lowers their links in search results in favor of prime placement of its Google Maps tool. The platforms have denied any misconduct and say their decisions are based on determinations about what will make up the best experience for users.