Democrats in the House Antitrust Judiciary group circulated the bills to potential co-sponsors this week. They’re hoping to get at least some GOP members to support the bills, especially Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, a critic of big tech companies and the top Republican on the panel.
The bills would seek to address these main complaints about the tech industry:
Conflicts of interest: Led by Representative Pramila Jayapal, whose Seattle district includes Amazon’s headquarters, the bill would allow the Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission to take legal action to break platforms.
The legislation targets companies like Amazon that operate a dominant platform and promote their own products or services there.
Data portability: Sponsored by Representative Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania, the bill would force online platforms to create interfaces that allow users to easily move their data to other services. It would apply to platforms with at least 500,000 US users or those designated by the DOJ and FTC as “critical business partner” for other companies.
The FTC would be empowered to make rules governing the transfer of data between services, and the DOJ and FTC could also sue and seek damages from companies that seek to violate portability or interoperability requirements.
The legislation reflects a 2019 measure (S. 2658) introduced by the senses. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) And Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) Who were looking to adopt similar data portability requirements for platforms.
No discrimination: Antitrust President David Cicillin (DR.I.) has drafted legislation prohibiting platforms from discriminating against their rivals – legislation that would prohibit many tech giants from “self-preferring” or favoring their own products.
The legislation targets Apple’s conduct related to its App Store and Amazon with respect to its marketplace.
The DOJ, FTC, or state attorneys general could prosecute platforms for engaging in discriminatory behavior, including if a platform restricts a company’s access to customer business data or forces companies to purchase a other product or service to access the platform. The developers alleged that Apple is illegally linking access to its App Store to the iPhone maker’s in-app purchase system, which charges a 30% commission. Amazon has also come under fire for examining whether a company uses its fulfillment and logistics services to determine which vendor is the default vendor on its website.
Mergers: A bill sponsored by Representative Hakeem Jeffries (DN.Y.) would ban platforms from acquiring potential rivals – legislation intended to strengthen the ability of the FTC and DOJ to control start-up acquisitions after the criticism of Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp and Google’s more recent agreement to buy Fitbit.
The platform would be required to show “clear and convincing evidence” in court that the potential rival is not competing or posing a competitive threat.
Money: The latest law would increase the filing fees paid to antitrust agencies for merger reviews. It is identical to a complementary bill (S. 228) of the Senses. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) And Chuck Grassley (R-Neb.) Which was added to the Endless Frontiers Act (S. 1260) passed by the Senate on Tuesday.