Democrats’ antitrust bills could reshape Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook

Democrats’ antitrust bills could reshape Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook


U.S. House Impeachment Director David Cicillin (D-RI) speaks on day two of former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial at the United States Capitol on February 10, 2021 in Washington, DC.

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A group of House Democrats are circulating bills to discuss antitrust bills that would force the biggest tech companies to change parts of their business models and restrict large acquisitions, according to copies obtained by CNBC.

While drafts may still change significantly before their introduction, as currently drafted, they may require revisions to the business model to Apple and Amazon by limiting their ability to tap product and application markets while selling their own products and applications on those same stores.

The bills would also make it harder for these companies and Facebook and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) to achieve large mergers, and would force them to make it easier for users to leave their platforms with their data intact. CNBC could not immediately know when the drafts will be presented.

The bills come after a 16-month investigation by the House Judiciary Subcommittee into the antitrust laws of the four companies, which resulted in a nearly 450-page Democratic staff report last fall. While Republicans on the subcommittee strayed from some of the Democrats’ more extreme proposals, several agreed with the Democratic report’s key findings on monopoly power and anti-competitive behavior and the need to restrain power. Big Tech with antitrust reform.

The bills do not indicate whether Republicans support the bills.

What the bills say

Specifically, the five discussion projects would prevent platforms from owning companies that present a conflict of interest, prevent large platforms from favoring their own products over those of competitors who depend on their sites, make it more difficult for large platforms to close mergers, would increase processing fees for acquisitions and mandate means for users to transfer their data between platforms.

One of the bills, sponsored by Representative Joe Neguse, D-Colo., Appears to be complementary legislation to the bipartisan Senate Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act, which passed in this chamber on Tuesday in part of a $ 250 billion larger technology and manufacturing bill. This bill would increase the fees companies pay to notify the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice’s antitrust division of major mergers to raise funds for these agencies.

The other four drafts obtained by CNBC include:

  • Law on the end of platform monopolies: Sponsored by Representative Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Vice-chair of the subcommittee, this bill would make it illegal for a platform with at least 500,000 monthly active US users and a market cap of over $ 600 billion. dollars from owning or operating a business that presents a clear conflict of interest. The draft defines an illegal conflict as one which causes a company to favor its own services over those of a competitor or to disadvantage potential competitors who use the platform. Lawmakers have previously expressed concern that Amazon and Apple, which run their own platforms for sellers and developers respectively, could hurt competition due to a conflict of interest for their own products or competing applications.
  • Competition Law and Platform Opportunities: This proposal by Representative Hakeem Jeffries, DN.Y., would shift the burden of proof in merger cases to dominant platforms (defined with the same criteria as the previous bill) to prove that their acquisitions are in fact legal, rather than the government having to prove that they will reduce competition. The measure would likely slow down acquisitions of dominant technology companies considerably.
  • Anti-platform monopoly law: This bill, proposed by subcommittee chairman David Cicilline, DR.I., would prohibit dominant platforms from giving their own products and services any advantages over those of competitors on the platform. It would also prohibit other types of discriminatory behavior on the part of dominant platforms, such as cutting off a competitor who uses the platform from the services offered by the platform itself, and prohibiting dominant platforms from using data collected on their services which are not public for others to power their own competing products, among several other prohibitions.
  • Law on Increasing Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Switching of Services (ACCESS): This bill from Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., Would require dominant platforms to maintain certain standards of data portability and interoperability, which would make it easier for consumers to take their data with them on the Internet. other platforms.

Representatives of these lawmakers did not respond or comment on the discussion plans.

Axes first reported on the drafts.

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