US bills target the unchecked power of tech giants

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""Tech News"" – Google News

Five bills in the US House of Representatives build on last year’s antitrust hearings and target key business practices among technology giants

Lawmakers in the US House of Representatives have tabled four bills aimed at reducing the power of the biggest tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, and a fifth that would give antitrust authorities more resources.

The five bills are the result of last year’s tech industry review conducted by the House Justice Committee’s Antitrust Committee.

The review included testimony from tech bosses, including Apple’s Tim Cook and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

At that time, the legislature accused companies of abusing their market power.

Platform dominance Platform

Two of the bills target the practice of companies like Amazon and Google that create a platform for other companies and then compete with those companies.

One of these measures would prohibit a platform from favoring its own products over those of competitors on the same platform, with a high potential penalty of 30 percent of the company’s US sales in the event of a breach.

The second bill would make it illegal for a platform company to have multiple businesses that create “conflicts of interest.”

“From Amazon and Facebook to Google and Apple, it is clear that these unregulated tech giants have grown too big to care,” said Pramila Jayapal, who sponsored one of the measures.

The bills have bipartisan support from Democratic MP David Cicilline, chairman of the Antitrust Committee, which co-funded the bills, and Ken Buck, top Republican. The bills were also sponsored by Justice Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler.

Acquisitions

“Change is coming. Laws are coming,” Cicilline said in February.

He said at the time that the power of the tech giants is “spreading into our political body and taking over our ability to function as a democracy”.

The draft of the Digital Services Act (DSA) of the European Union is also aimed at large technology platforms.

A third bill would require a platform to refrain from an acquisition unless it can show that the acquired company is not competing with a product or service that the platform is already offering.

This is to prevent large technology companies from taking over smaller competitors.

A fourth bill provides that platforms allow users to transfer their data to other services, including competitors. The bill stipulates that competing services must be interoperable.

‘Convenience’

A fifth bill would increase the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission fees for assessing mergers of the largest companies and would increase the budgets of these agencies. It is the companion of a bill that has already passed the Senate.

The business-friendly US Chamber of Commerce said it was “strongly” against the approach of the bills as they “target specific companies”.

A tech industry advocate, Chamber of Progress, said the bills could ban “conveniences” such as Amazon Basics branded batteries, Apple’s Find My Phone tool, and Google Maps from appearing in Google search results. The group is supported by Amazon, Facebook, Google and others.

Robert Weissman, president of the Public Citizen advocacy group, praised the bills aimed at “unbelievable abuse of power” by technology companies.

“This uncontrolled power ends now,” he said.

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