The US Congress has just introduced 5 new bills specifically aimed at limiting the power and reach of US technology giants and part of a wide-ranging anti-trust action.
“From Amazon and Facebook to Google and Apple, it is clear that these unregulated tech giants have become too big to care and too powerful to ever put people over profit,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal said in a statement. “By reasserting the power of Congress, our landmark bipartisan bills rein in anti-competitive behavior, prevent monopolistic practices, and restore fairness and competition while finally leveling the playing field and allowing innovation to thrive.”
The proposed legislation includes:
- The American Choice and Innovation Online Act: A measure that would prevent tech platforms from advantaging their own business over a competitor. Rep. David Cicilline, chair of the House Antitrust subcommittee, said the bill would prevent Amazon “from manipulating their marketplaces to promote their own products.” It could also address concerns that Apple preferences its own services in the App Store.
- The Ending Platform Monopolies Act: Co-authored by Rep. Jayapal, whose district includes Amazon, the bill targets the online retail giant. It would prevent big tech companies from “selling products in marketplaces they control,” and would mean any company with a market brand more than $600 million would not be able to sell own-brand items.
- The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act: The bill would prevent “dominant platforms” from acquiring companies that represent “competitive threats.” Members of Congress have previously questioned Mark Zuckerberg over Facebook’s aggressive pursuit of competitors.
- The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching Act of 2021 (ACCESS): The bill is meant to make it easier to “quit social media and take your data with you,” according to Cicilline.
- The ‘Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act of 2021: The bill would help the FTC and Department of Justice raise more money for antitrust enforcement by increasing the fees companies pay when requesting government approval for acquisitions.
The bills have bipartisan support, meaning there is a higher likelihood the laws will pass into the books. If this does occur it may have a profound effect on how many of these large companies practice, and despite Microsoft not being specifically named, it seems likely even that company will have to watch closely how it operates.