Recently five bipartisan bills are being considered in the United States House of Representatives that intend to add additional oversight on the power of modern tech giants. Let’s take a look at these bills and why they are deemed necessary by many lawmakers.
The House’s antitrust subcommittee conducted a lengthy investigation into the anticompetitive behaviors of some of the major technology companies in business today. This investigation has bred several new bills that, if signed into law, would be some of the most robust antitrust laws passed in recent history. Here is some of the proposed legislation.
This bill is designed to limit the ability of technology companies to push their own products and services on their users. For years these major technology companies have been able to peddle their own products by using information collected from users. This act would effectively eliminate the monopoly that these companies currently enjoy with the use of user data, providing an avenue for third-party companies to utilize this data as well.
One of the core considerations with all of this proposed legislation is to address what is considered monopolistic behavior. The Ending Platform Monopolies Act is targeting the major technology companies such as Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook by removing any company with 50 million active users and a market capitalization rate of over $600 billion’s ability to run corresponding businesses that create a conflict of interest. Amazon and Apple are the inspiration for this bill as both sell devices and services that create anti-competitive situations for other companies.
The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act would effectively limit a company’s ability to acquire companies that are in direct competition with them. Most of the technology companies in question have been very aggressive in acquiring companies they may be in competition with. For example, under the new bill, Facebook’s relatively cheap acquisition of Instagram would have more legal issues, as they operate as direct competitors.
This bill is basically a bill that states that filing fees would be significantly increased and it would take those proceeds and use them to fund further oversight of anti-competitive business practices in the technology industry.
ACCESS would give businesses the ability to streamline the transfer of a person’s private information. Several bills like it have been proposed over the years, but effectively it would make major technology companies provide access for integration to competing companies; a right they can deny currently.
We listed them before and they completely dominate online life. They are Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. Colorado Representative Ken Buck went so far as to call them out by name in a statement: “Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google have prioritized power over innovation and harmed American businesses and consumers in the process. These companies have maintained monopoly power in the online marketplace by using a variety of anticompetitive behaviors to stifle competition.”
Some are saying it is about time, while many others don’t understand why they would change the rules for successful companies. The fact is that something has to be done to allow for more competition in the online marketplace. The four companies that are mentioned have a market valuation of $6 trillion combined—about ⅖ the value of the entire United States’ Gross Domestic Product for 2020.
Some changes you may see include Amazon losing the right to sell Amazon-branded items or Google—that owns YouTube—not being allowed to feature YouTube videos in their search results. Technology companies have enjoyed little oversight until now, but these proposed pieces of legislation, and the bipartisan support some are getting, are an indicator that something is going to be done to stem this anti-competitive behavior.
With only around four percent of bills that are proposed adopted as law, you may see none of these bills pass, but it is interesting, and kind of refreshing, to see so many people coming together.
What do you think? Should there be additional regulations on these major Internet monopolies or should the Government leave them alone? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below, and return to our blog for more technology-based content.