The Biden administration is again looking to executive action as their attempt to rein in “big business” hit a snag earlier this week, according to reports.
In a massive blow to Congress’ effort to rein in Big Tech, a federal judge threw out antitrust lawsuits leveled against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission and more than 40 states earlier this week.
In response, “The Biden administration is developing an executive order directing agencies to strengthen oversight of industries that they perceive to be dominated by a small number of companies, a wide-ranging attempt to rein in big business power across the economy, according to people familiar with the plans,” reported The Wall Street Journal.
“The executive order, which President Biden could sign as soon as next week, would direct regulators of industries from airlines to agriculture to rethink their rule-making process to inject more competition and to give consumers, workers and suppliers more rights to challenge large producers,” The Wall Street Journal added, noting that the executive action would go “beyond conventional antitrust enforcement focused on blocking big mergers.”
What makes this order so controversial is that it doesn’t just involve enforcing new or existing antitrust laws. It also moves to leverage federal power to “create” business competition.
As Reuters noted in their exclusive report on the subject, “It was not immediately clear how such an order would aid those efforts on Capitol Hill and rein in the power of large tech companies that have thrived for years without much regulation.”
According to Reuters, one of their sources “described the order as ‘well developed,’” and that it builds on “a 2016 report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers.”
“Both sources said it is being worked on by former Obama administration officials who now work for President Joe Biden,” Reuters added.
This seems to contradict earlier reports that Biden’s approach would differ from that of Obama. Biden first indicated an aggressive stance against Big Tech when he “loaded up his administration with Big Tech’s most prominent critics.”
“Nearly two months into his presidency, it’s finally becoming clear how Joe Biden plans to approach the tech sector. And it’s looking far different from the approach under the Obama administration,” CNBC reported in March.
This executive order appears to be under consideration in the event that Congress’ efforts fail. Last week, the effort by a number of House members to introduce legislation to break up Big Tech giants Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook passed an initial hurdle, with a House committee approving the legislative move.
“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,” they added.