Group Of State Attorneys General Urge Passage Of House Bills Targeting Big Tech

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A bipartisan group of 32 state attorneys general sent a letter to leading lawmakers in the House and Senate on Monday urging the passage of a series of antitrust bills targeting major technology companies.

The letter, led by attorneys general Phil Weiser of Colorado, Douglas Peterson of Nebraska, Letitia James of New York, and Herbert H. Slatery III of Tennessee, was addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The attorneys general urged Congress to modernize federal antitrust laws and enhance consumer protections by passing a series of bills introduced in the House Judiciary Committee in June that target big tech companies.

“A comprehensive update of federal antitrust laws has not occurred in decades,” the attorneys general wrote. “The sponsors of these bills should be commended for working to ensure that federal antitrust laws remain robust and keep pace with that of modern markets.”

The House Judiciary Committee advanced six bills in June that seek to strengthen antitrust law and enforcement in regards to companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, and address the tech companies’ perceived anticompetitive business practices. The bills would prevent companies from preferencing their own services on their platforms, force companies to allow consumers to easily transport data from one platform to another, shift the burden of proof in mergers to tech companies and impose several other requirements aimed at limiting anticompetitive conduct.

Attorney General of Utah Sean Reyes pre-records his address to the Republican National Convention at the Mellon Auditorium on August 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Attorney General of Utah Sean Reyes pre-records his address to the Republican National Convention at the Mellon Auditorium on August 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The attorneys general applauded the introduction of the bills but also pushed for further expansions of antitrust law and consumer protections. (RELATED: State AGs File Appeal In Antitrust Case Against Facebook)

“These include provisions to further enhance consumer protections from unlawful and irresponsible mergers and business practices as well as necessary improvements to ensure that competition and innovation are not stifled,” the attorneys general wrote. “In addition, we urge Congress to include in the legislation a provision confirming that the states are sovereigns that stand on equal footing with federal enforcers under federal antitrust law, including with regard to the timing of challenging anticompetitive mergers and other practices.”

State attorneys general have been active in antitrust challenges to tech companies, with Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, one of the letter’s signatories, leading a complaint filed in July against Google over its alleged monopolistic practices in the Google Play Store. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton led a December suit against Google over its digital advertising practices, while New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Facebook for its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp.

A bipartisan collection of lawmakers including Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley and Chuck Grassley developing the legislation is currently working on companion legislation to the House bills.

“It is critical, as we do so, that we advance measures to promote competition and that we not let this moment pass,” the attorney generals wrote. “There is simply too much at stake.”

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