Congress proposes law to prevent Big Tech from favoring its own products

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,205   +882
Staff member
In context: Recent antitrust lawsuits and investigations from various agencies in multiple countries have pushed numerous companies' anticompetitive behavior to the forefront. So it's not surprising that the US Congress has been pursuing several legislative measures to address issues exposed by these cases. The latest hopes to ban companies from favoring their own goods and services.

On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of US senators introduced a bill that would prohibit Big Tech firms from favoring their own products. It is one of several motions in Congress to address various antitrust concerns that have sprouted up with several tech giants, including Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon.

The legislation sponsored by Amy Klobuchar and Chuck Grassley looks to ban companies operating large platforms from locking their clients into using their goods and services. For example, the law would prohibit Facebook from requiring advertisers to use its Audience Network—it would have to let them use third-party ad solutions if they wish. It could also potentially apply to the use of payment platforms that is at the heart of the Epic v Apple antitrust battle.

Reuters notes that the bill also prohibits companies from tuning their search algorithms to favor their own products. This second part of the legislation seems to be directly related to the recent discovery that Amazon India has been fixing search results to funnel users to its own knock-off products versus its competitors.

Unsurprisingly, Amazon, Facebook, and Google oppose the measure, saying it could have "unintended consequences."

"[This legislation] would harm consumers and the more than 500,000 US small and medium-sized businesses that sell in the Amazon store, and it would put at risk the more than 1 million jobs created by those businesses," Amazon said in a statement.

Facebook defended itself, saying that it competes with several social media platforms, including TikTok and Twitter. It contends the bill would "dismantle" its integrated products and services in a way that would harm its customer base.

A Google spokesperson told Reuters that if the bill were to become law, companies would have a hard time offering free services such as search and maps. The company also feels that such a law would lead to those free services becoming "less safe, less private and less secure."

Not all tech companies are against the bill. Senator Klobuchar's office said that Spotify, Roku, Match Group, and DuckDuckGo support the legislation.

The House Judiciary Committee has already approved the bill, but it still has to be passed by both branches of Congress before being sent to President Joe Biden for his signature or veto.

Image credit: UpstateNYer (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Jack Deth

Posts: 60   +93
Big Tech bought most of congress.

All kabuki theater to make it look like those bums in DC are doing something (which they're not) instead of screwing the people (which they are).



 

BadThad

Posts: 729   +812
I don't much care for the tech giants but I HATE government regulation. We are far too regulated today as it stands. The more laws passed, the less freedom we have. Government is an obstacle that's too big already.