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Antitrust Efforts To Break Up Big Tech Pass First Hurdle, House Committee Approves Move
WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 06: The early morning sun strikes the U.S. Capitol November 6, 2006 in Washington, DC. Midterm elections take place November 7, potentially changing the balance of power in the nation's capital.
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The effort by a number of House Members to introduce legislation to break up Big Tech giants Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook has reportedly passed an initial hurdle, with a House committee approving the legislative move.

This legislative effort by House members involves five distinct bills:

  • The American Choice And Innovation Online Act: This bill would look to prevent so-called “discriminatory conduct” by Big Tech corporations, achieved by stopping them from giving preferential treatment to their products and services over various rivals. 
  • The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act: This bill would look to prevent Big Tech corporations from buying companies that present or enable competition. 
  • The Ending Platform Monopolies Act: This bill would look to prevent Big Tech corporations from leveraging their power and influence across multiple business channels in pursuit of profitable advantages, with certain companies of a significant size prohibited from engaging in another line of business which could present a conflict of interest, such as making decisions which favor the wider business or inhibit the success of a competitor.
  • The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching Act: Also known as the Access Act, this bill would look to enable the transfer of personal information from one platform to another, with the goal of promoting competition by reducing the costs of switching platforms for both consumers and businesses.
  • The Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act: This bill would look to raise filing fees for mergers, which would be used to provide funding for further antitrust actions via both the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the American Choice and Innovation Online Act “was approved early Thursday by a vote of 24 to 20.” The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching, or Access, Act passed 25-19 late Wednesday. 

“Two other less-controversial bills also were adopted, one raising federal fees on corporate merger reviews and another aiding state attorneys general in procedural battles in antitrust court cases,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “The panel will consider a final bill in the package when it reconvenes Thursday.”

“The president is encouraged by the bipartisan work to address problems created by big tech platforms,” a White House official said. “We hope the legislative process continues to move forward on these bipartisan proposals, and we look forward to working with Congress to continue developing these ideas.”

Adam Kovacevich — the CEO of the Chamber of Progress, a group sponsored by multiple Big Tech companies including Amazon, Facebook, and Google — argued that “Democrats should focus on making people’s lives better, not messing with stuff people already like” in a blog post in early June.

“Giving antitrust enforcers more funding and encouraging data portability are relatively uncontroversial ideas, but banning conveniences like Amazon Basics brand batteries, Apple’s Find my Phone tool, or Google Maps appearing in Google search results are ideas that would spark a consumer backlash,” wrote Kovacevich. “Instead of focusing on helping families, these proposals inexplicably target a bunch of technological conveniences that most people really like. Let’s hope Democrats stay focused on the right things.”

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