WASHINGTON – House lawmakers on Friday introduced sweeping antitrust laws aimed at limiting the power of big tech and preventing corporate consolidation across the economy in what would be the most ambitious update to monopoly laws in decades.
The bills – five in total – are aimed directly at Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google and their influence on online trade, information and entertainment. The proposals would make it easier to disband companies that are using their dominance in one area to assert themselves in another, create new barriers to taking on emerging rivals, and provide regulators with more funding for police companies.
“Right now, unregulated technology monopolies have too much power over our economy. You are in a unique position to select winners and losers, destroy small businesses, raise consumer prices and put people out of work, “said David Cicilline Rep., Democrat of Rhode Island and chair of the Antitrust Subcommittee. “Our agenda will level the playing field and ensure that the richest and most powerful technology monopolies play by the same rules as the rest of us.”
Adopting the bipartite-backed bills will be the most aggressive challenge yet, from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley tech giants who have flourished for years without regulation or much reluctance to expand their businesses. Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have a combined market capitalization of $ 6.3 trillion, four times the value of the country’s 10 largest banks.
In the past decade, dozens of privacy, language liability, and online child safety laws have failed. But efforts to curb the dominance of the largest tech companies have found widespread support in recent years. The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have accused Google and Facebook of anticompetitive practices during the Trump administration and filed lawsuits that are expected to last for years. Democrats and Republicans point to the dominance of a handful of firms as a major contributor to the spread of disinformation, inequality in work and wages, and arbitrary rules for speech on the Internet.
The tech giants face similar challenges to their power around the world as they face multiple antitrust investigations against Facebook, Amazon and Google in Europe, as well as new laws in Australia and India, to curb the power of the American giants.
“These are exactly the new laws we need to really address the problem of gatekeeper power from dominant digital platforms,” said Charlotte Slaiman, competition director of Public Knowledge, a public interest group. “Big tech companies have so many powerful tools to protect their monopoly. These bills would give the antitrust authorities a few more powerful tools to open up digital platform markets to competition. “
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.