What you need to know
- House lawmakers have introduced five new bills aimed at big tech.
- The bills aim to curtail the market dominance enjoyed by major tech firms.
The age of big tech going around unchecked might actually be over in the United States...if the bills introduced today get enough traction.
As reported by The Verge, the five bipartisan bills aim to curb the market dominance that some major tech firms have enjoyed for years now. One of the bills could give the Justice Department or the Federal Trade Commission the power to require tech companies to break off parts of their business that create a conflict of interest (think the App Store or Amazon Basics). Another bill would prevent acquisitions like when Facebook gobbled up Instagram back in 2012.
The package unveiled Friday includes five measures targeting the different ways in which tech companies maintain market dominance. One bill would empower the Justice Department or the Federal Trade Commission to break up tech firms by forcing them to sell off parts of their business that could create a conflict of interest — potentially forcing Amazon to carve off house brands like Amazon Basics.
Another bill would bar companies from giving their own services preference over their rivals, like Google boosting its own products in search results over competitors. Yet another bill would block companies like Facebook from buying up nascent competitors like in the 2012 acquisition of Instagram.
The last two bills are less controversial. Last week, the Senate already passed a measure put out by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) that would boost merger filing fees for large companies, giving antitrust enforcers more money to take on cases. A bill mirroring that legislation was introduced Wednesday. The last bill would force platforms to make the data they collect interoperable in order to make it easier for users to jump from one service to another.
Representative David Cicilline, who oversaw the House antitrust investigation, says that all of the bills aim to "level the playing field" so that the big tech firms are forced to compete fairly with smaller companies.
"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 ... 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."
It's currently unclear when the bills will be heard in Congress or when they could be passed into law.