The Democratic chairman of the House antitrust panel is expected to introduce five bipartisan bills to rein in Big Tech platforms such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google through new anti-monopoly legislation.
The five draft bills obtained by the Washington Examiner are meant to make tech user data portable, restrict acquisitions by Big Tech platforms, block platforms from selling on the marketplaces they control, stop companies from giving preference to their own products and services, and provide more resources for the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice, the two key antitrust agencies in the federal government.
Each of the bills has been drafted by a Democratic representative. Rep. Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican and ranking chairman of the panel, indicated his support for the bill package through a spokesman on Wednesday.
Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island said in an interview with the Washington Examiner in March the bills will have bipartisan support and will be introduced in conjunction with Buck.
Notably missing within the legislative package are bills aimed at reversing key federal court cases Democrats say gave Big Tech companies unfair advantages and create legal authority for “structural separation” of Big Tech companies, essentially breaking them up — two possibilities Cicilline discussed with the Washington Examiner earlier this year.
The legislative package is likely to be supported by anti-monopolists on both sides of the aisle, but Big Tech companies and their trade associations will push back by arguing government overreach could squash innovation and hurt consumers.
Here are the five antitrust bills that are likely to be introduced:
Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act, by Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse of Colorado
The bill would promote antitrust enforcement and protect competition through adjusting pre-merger filing fees while increasing antitrust enforcement resources.
“There’s considerable bipartisan support for additional resources at the antitrust agencies to make sure the DOJ and the FTC are properly resourced, so that’s first,” Cicilline told the Washington Examiner in March.
He added that increased manpower and resources at the Justice Department and the trade commission should include “people that are sufficiently enthusiastic and creative and serious about the antitrust work.”
Platform Anti-Monopoly Act, by Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island
The legislation would prohibit businesses — primarily online platforms such as Google, Amazon, and Apple — from taking actions that favor their own products and services on their platforms, also referred to as nondiscrimination legislation. Many tech giants create and enforce barriers to competition, therefore discriminating against and excluding rivals, according to Cicilline.
Ending Platform Monopolies Act, by Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington
The legislation would promote competition and economic opportunity in online marketplaces, such as those run by Amazon or Google, by eliminating the “irreconcilable conflicts of interest” that arise from dominant online platforms concurrently controlling a marketplace while selling items on it.
Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching Act, by Democratic Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania
The bill would promote competition, lower barriers to entry, and reduce switching costs for consumers and businesses wishing to move between platforms online.
The legislation is focused on ensuring data portability, or the ability for users to move their data easily from one online platform to another, and interoperability, a system forcing tech companies to enable their products and services to work with those of rival companies. These two changes to how Big Tech platforms run their businesses would “bring more competition in the digital marketplace,” Cicilline said in March.
Platform Competition and Opportunity Act, by Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York
The legislation would promote competition and economic opportunity in online markets by establishing that certain acquisitions by Big Tech platforms with a market capitalization of over $600 billion, such as Facebook or Google, are in violation of antitrust laws.