The House Judiciary Committee approved an antitrust bill that would force large technology companies like
The bill, which advanced Thursday on a bipartisan vote of 21-20, is one of six pieces of legislation moved forward by the committee over a marathon two-day session that would force Amazon,
Taken together, the bills represent the beginnings of an effort in Congress to reinvigorate antitrust enforcement against tech platforms by giving competition officials at the Justice Department and
The most far-reaching proposal that advanced Thursday,
“This is a very extreme measure,” said Democrat
Jayapal likened the tech platforms’ control of multiple lines of businesses to a person who “sets the rules of the game, calls all the plays on the field, while also playing on one of the teams.”
“The dominant platforms’ dual ownership creates a clear conflict of interest, an irresistible urge if you will, for platforms to preference their own business lines over competitors,” she said.
Advocates for more aggressive antitrust enforcement praised the measure after it was approved.
“This is truly a watershed moment,” Accountable Tech co-founder Jesse Lehrich said in a statement. “Even a few years ago, the prospect of such bold structural reforms to rein in the unchecked power of big tech was anathema.”
But tech-funded organizations warned the proposals would harm technology that consumers enjoy and depend on and threaten innovation.
“Even after a mark-up highlighting the legislative flaws, the bill package will still ruin our global competitive edge, remove choices on digital shelves, and increase the amount consumers pay at check out,” said
In addition to Lofgren, three Democrats voted against Jayapal’s bill:
“This is the kind of deliberation and serious work that our constituents have come to expect,” said Representative
Thursday’s vote on the Jayapal bill capped a session that began Wednesday morning on six bills that would toughen merger reviews for tech companies, restrict how they treat other businesses that depend on their platforms and require them to let other companies connect to their networks.
“This legislation is an attempt to address that, in the interest of fairness and the interest of competition and the interest of meeting the needs of people whose privacy, whose data and all the rest, is at the mercy of these tech companies,” she said.
The criteria for a “covered platform” in four of the bills are based on market capitalization, monthly users and whether other businesses depend on the company’s services. Much of Wednesday’s debate was over whether the bills would
The proposals grew out of a 16-month investigation of the companies led by Cicilline’s subcommittee that culminated with a report that accused the platforms of abusing their gatekeeper power in the digital economy to harm competition.
Although the bills made it through the Judiciary Committee, it’s not clear that all of them could pass the House. And the Senate presents an even bigger hurdle because most legislation needs at least 10 Republicans to become law.
Two of the bills considered on Wednesday represent modest measures to support antitrust enforcers, including one that would generate more revenue for the FTC and the Justice Department’s antitrust division by raising filing fees for the biggest mergers. Those two have companion bills in the Senate, which gives them a clearer path to become law.
A White House official said President
(Updates with reaction in eighth through 11th paragraphs)
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