House lawmakers on Friday introduced a slew of antitrust bills they say aim to rein in the power and reach of Big Tech companies, but some conservatives are warning that the legislation would give the federal government too much control over the tech sector, while others are concerned the proposals would adversely effect the broader economy and U.S. competitiveness.
The bills, which have some bipartisan support, including from Republican Reps. Ken Buck, Madison Cawthorne, Burgess Owens, Victoria Sparks, Matt Gaetz and Chip Roy, take aim at top tech companies like Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook. The bills, though, do not address Twitter.
“Right now, unregulated tech monopolies have too much power over our economy. They are in a unique position to pick winners and losers, destroy small businesses, raise prices on consumers and put folks out of work,” Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., the chairman of the House Antitrust Subcommittee told the Wall Street Journal Friday. “Our agenda will level the playing field and ensure the wealthiest, most powerful tech monopolies play by the same rules as the rest of us.”
U.S. antitrust laws haven’t been updated significantly in almost 100 years, according to Buck’s office.
In general, the bills would seek to have the Justice Department or the Federal Trade Commission assign “covered platforms” to include companies with at least 500,000 users in the U.S. and with $600 billion in revenue. Once designated, those companies considered “covered platforms” would have regulations imposed on mergers, data and general company practices.
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The proposals would make it easier to break up companies that monopolize the market and would give regulators more power.
One bill would allow the Justice Department or Federal Trade Commission to sue to break up platforms. The legislation takes aim at companies like Amazon that operate a dominant platform and promote their own goods or services on it. It aims to break up Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple’s monopoly power.
Another focuses on data portability and interoperability, and would require online platforms to create interfaces to let users easily move their data to other services.
The next piece of legislation would prohibit many of the tech giants from “self-preferencing” or favoring their own products. The legislation takes aim at conduct by Apple related to its App Store and Amazon with respect to its marketplace.
Another bill filed Friday would increase the filing fees paid to the antitrust agencies for merger reviews. The bill is a companion bill to one that passed in the Senate with bipartisan support. Sources familiar with the legislation said that the bill would not make taxpayers responsible for the increase, but rather the Big Tech companies. The bill would also make it more affordable for small and medium-sized companies with respect to filing fees. Sources said the funds go toward the DOJ Antitrust Division and FTC for increased scrutiny on Big Tech giants.
A fifth piece of legislation focuses on mergers and beefs up the FTC and Justice Department’s ability to police st
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