Cotton, Klobuchar Plan To Rein In Big Tech’s ‘Monopolistic’ Practices With New Bipartisan Bill

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Ailan Evans Deputy Editor
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Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and Democratic Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar unveiled a bipartisan bill Friday intended to restrict how major tech companies acquire and merge with smaller firms.

The bill, titled the Platform Competition and Opportunity Act, is a companion to antitrust legislation advanced out of the House Judiciary Committee in June. If enacted, the law would shift the burden in antitrust cases to the acquiring party for mergers greater than $50 million, meaning that the acquiring firm would have to prove that its acquisition of another company was not anti-competitive.

The bill explicitly targets Big Tech companies, and it applies to firms with market capitalizations over $600 billion, at least 50,000,000 U.S.-based monthly active users or 100,000 monthly active business users. This would include Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple. (RELATED: Sens. Cotton, Hawley To Work On Bipartisan Bills Aimed At Breaking Up Big Tech)

“Big tech firms have bought up rivals to crush their competition, expand their monopolistic market share, and to harm working Americans,” Cotton said in a press release announcing the bill. “That’s bad for America. Under this bill, the largest tech monopolies will have the burden of proving that further acquisitions are lawful and good for the American people.”

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) confer during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 19: U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) confer during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill March 19, 2013 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony on the topic of “The American Airlines/US Airways Merger: Consolidation, Competition, and Consumers.” (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Cotton and Klobuchar’s proposal departs from the House version of the bill by narrowing the discretion through which the Federal Trade Commission can apply the law to a company. The legislation is the second Senate companion bill to the House antitrust package, with Klobuchar spearheading a bill unveiled in October and co-sponsored by Republican Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley that targets platforms that preference their own services.

“This bipartisan legislation will put an end to those anticompetitive acquisitions by making it more difficult for dominant digital platforms to eliminate their competitors and enhance the platform’s market power,” Klobuchar said in the press release. “It’s past time to address our nation’s monopoly problem and modernize our antitrust laws for the digital economy.”

The bill was cheered on by House lawmakers behind the antitrust package, including Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, the chief Republican behind the House bills.

The legislation also drew bipartisan support from public antitrust advocates, including Mike Davis of the Internet Accountability Project, who said the bill tackles Big Tech’s “staggering market power,” and Charlotte Slaiman of Public Knowledge, who called the bill an “important step towards a better internet.”

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