In light of a series of antitrust reforms bills that were introduced by members of the US House of Representatives last week, tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple may be forced to make major changes to their business practices. The Bills aim to thwart some of the common practices these Silicon Valley giants use to establish their digital hegemony by outlawing certain common methods.
These platforms are prohibited from owning subsidiaries operating on their platform if those subsidiaries also compete with other companies. The government could also force them to sell off their assets if they have businesses that appear to pose a conflict of interest.
Congress has introduced five bipartisan bills as part of a report published by the Antitrust Subcommittee. They investigated Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple for 16 months and found they are wielding significant power. In addition to deterring acquisitions and competitive threats by dominant platforms, the legislation potentially bans acquisitions that increase these platforms’ market power, such as self-preferencing and deciding “winners and losers” on the Internet. The following bills are being proposed:
American Innovation and Choice Online Act
Platform Competition and Opportunity Act
Ending Platform Monopolies Act
Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act
Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act
Several bills were introduced in the House by both Democrats and Republicans to check this power. Democrat Pramila Jayapal, a member of Congress from Washington State, originally proposed the “Ending Platform Monopolies Act”, which both Republicans and Democrats have signed.
In a speech in the House, she said, “It is clear that these unregulated tech giants have become too big to care and too powerful to ever put the interests of people ahead of profits.”
Democrats David Cicilline and Ken Buck, the top Republicans on the panel, are co-sponsors of the bills. The bills are also sponsored by Congressman Jerry Nadler of the Judiciary Committee.
Rep. David Cicilline said that unregulated tech monopolies influence our economy too much. “They are in a unique position to choose winners and losers, destroy small businesses, raise prices on consumers and create jobless conditions,” he said.
According to him, his agenda will create a level playing field and ensure large tech companies follow the same rules the rest of us do.
Furthermore, they state that their bipartisan legislative agenda will increase opportunities for consumers, workers, and small business owners by enforcing anti-competitive laws against big tech monopolies. In a statement, a pro-business group said they oppose the Bills’ approach in totality.