- House Democrats plan to introduce five bills aimed at weakening big tech monopolies, Politico reported.
- The bills would let regulators block mergers between rivals and unwind past ones, and bar some anticompetitive practices.
- The bills reflect recommendations from the House’s landmark antitrust investigation and report last year.
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House Democrats plan to introduce five separate bills as early as this week that could dramatically reign in big tech companies’ economic dominance, Politico reported Wednesday.
The bills address a number of lawmakers’ concerns about the growing power of tech titans like Amazon, Apple, Alphabet-owned Google, and Facebook.
One bill, headed up by Rep. Pramilia Jayapal, of Washington, would let the Department of Justice or Federal Trade Commission sue to break up tech companies by forcing them to sell parts of their business that present a conflict of interest, Politico reported. That could spell trouble for companies like Amazon and Google, which critics say use their dominance of web hosting and digital ad markets to promote their own products and services.
A second bill, authored by Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, would ban large tech companies from favoring their own products in digital marketplaces they operate and set the rules for, according to Politico. That takes aim at how Apple’s App Store policies impact app developers and how Amazon treats third-party sellers in its marketplace.
A third bill, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, of New York, would prohibit platform companies from acquiring or merging with potential competitors, Politico reported. That follows criticism of Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, and the FTC’s probe into potentially anticompetitive acquisitions by Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon.
A fourth bill, sponsored by Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, of Pennsylvania, would require platforms with more than 500,000 US users, or those designated by regulators as a “critical trading partner,” to make it easier for users to move their data to rival platforms, Politico reported. Lawmakers have criticized Facebook and Google for hoarding users’ personal data in an endless “feedback loop” that helps them maintain their market power.
The final bill, identical to one sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in a spending bill that passed this week, Politico reported, would require companies to pay antitrust regulators more when seeking their approval for mergers. Regulators are vastly underresourced compared to the tech giants they’re tasked with regulating, placing them at a huge disadvantage if they seek to block a merger and it goes to court – increased legal fees could help balance the scales.
The set of bills reflects recommendations from a landmark 449-page House Judiciary Committee report last fall that called the companies monopolies that needed to be broken up.
The report was the result of an extensive investigation in which the committee probed whether major tech companies had used their size and market position to engage in anticompetitive behaviors that unfairly harmed rivals, consumers, and society more broadly.