Politics

Bills Combatting Big Tech’s Monopolistic Practices Move Closer To Becoming Law, Fueled By Unexpected Bipartisan Coalitions

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  • The House Judiciary Committee advanced six bills to combat tech giants’ monopolistic practices, with a bipartisan group of lawmakers spurning extensive lobbying efforts by firms like Facebook and Google.
  • The central bill, dubbed the American Choice and Innovation Online Act (ACIOA), bars big tech companies from favoring their own products on their platforms at the disadvantage of others. It passed early Thursday by a 24-20 vote.
  • New York Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, the committee’s chair, said in a statement that the ACIOA “restores competition online and ensures that digital markets are fair and open.”
  • “American consumers and small businesses would be shocked at how these bills would break many of their favorite services,” said Mark Isakowitz, vice president of government affairs and public policy for Google. “This would all dramatically undermine U.S. technology leadership, damage the way small businesses connect with consumers and raise serious privacy and security concerns.”

The House Judiciary Committee advanced six bills this week to combat tech giants’ monopolistic practices, with a bipartisan group of lawmakers spurning extensive lobbying efforts by firms like Facebook and Google.

The central bill, dubbed the American Choice and Innovation Online Act (ACIOA), bars big tech companies from favoring their own products on their platforms at the disadvantage of other businesses or users. It passed early Thursday by a 24-20 vote.

Another measure, known as the Augmenting Capability and Competition by Enabling Service Switching, or ACCESS Act, mandates that large platforms make it easier for users to transport personal data to other platforms and facilitate communication with people on them. The bill, which passed 25-19, also gives the Federal Trade Commission additional powers to set tougher standards for tech giants.

The bills advanced after a marathon session by the Judiciary Committee which began Wednesday morning and adjourned early Thursday. The package must still pass the full House before heading to the Senate.

The legislation is the strongest effort Congress has taken to combat big tech’s growing power. New York Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, the committee’s chair, said in a statement that the ACIOA “restores competition online and ensures that digital markets are fair and open.”

“It serves to prevent gatekeepers from abusing their power in ways that harm competition and consumers,” he added. “And it does so without disrupting the benefits of the open internet that consumers enjoy today.”

The White House has also signed on in support of the bills, and last week saw its nominee to chair the FTC, progressive big tech critic Lina Khan, get confirmed with overwhelming bipartisan support(RELATED: Biden Is Appointing Big Tech Hawks To Key Roles)

Lina Khan was confirmed with wide bipartisan support, and is one of multiple big tech hawks in the Biden administration. (GRAEME JENNINGS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The bills, however, have been decried by tech companies and some lawmakers.

“American consumers and small businesses would be shocked at how these bills would break many of their favorite services,” Mark Isakowitz, vice president of government affairs and public policy for Google, told the Wall Street Journal. “This would all dramatically undermine U.S. technology leadership, damage the way small businesses connect with consumers and raise serious privacy and security concerns.”

Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, who has decried the legislation, said during the markup that the bills would lead to big tech and government “marrying up and working together,” and said that they would give the FTC too much power. (RELATED: Nearly Every Lawmaker Overseeing Privacy, Antitrust Issues Received Big Tech Money In 2020)

California Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren also opposed most of the bills debated, saying in a statement ahead of the markup that they “will create more harm than good for American consumers and the U.S. economy.”

“Congress must calibrate regulatory and antitrust laws deliberately and carefully,” she said. “In fact, as I have previously asserted, enforcement agencies and the courts are far better suited than a Congressional Committee to conduct full adjudications to reach definitive conclusions about whether anticompetitive conduct has in fact occurred in specific cases.”

Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar has led the Senate’s effort on antitrust legislation, and commended the Judiciary Committee’s markup Wednesday.

“We have a monopoly problem in America, including in Big Tech, and reining it in is going to require action from the House and the Senate,” she said in a statement. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in both chambers to get it done.”

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