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US lawmakers introduce bills limiting power held by Big Tech companies

US lawmakers introduced five bills aimed at limiting the power held by Big Tech companies.

The bills were drafted after a 16-month investigation into the powers of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook.

They address topics including data, mergers, and the competitive behaviour of these companies – which could ultimately lead to them being forced to sell some assets.




But there is not unanimous support for the bills targeting Big Tech.

“Bills that target specific companies, instead of focusing on business practices, are simply bad policy… and could be ruled unconstitutional,” Neil Bradley from the US Chamber of Commerce said in a statement.

The bills will be referred to the House Judiciary Committee before being sent to the House floor.



To become law, they must pass through the House of Representatives, the Senate and, finally, be signed by President Joe Biden.

WHAT THE BILLS SAY?

  • The American Choice and Innovation Online Act – this bill prevents companies from manipulating marketplaces to promote their own products
  • The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act of 2021 – this bill makes it harder for companies to buy and kill off competitors
  • The Ending Platform Monopolies Act – this bill prohibits Big Tech monopolies from selling products in marketplaces they control
  • The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act of 2021 – this bill makes it easier to leave a social media platform and take your data to a competitor
  • The Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act of 2021 – this bill allows the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission the resources they need to police monopoly power, at no cost to taxpayers

‘KILLER ACQUISITIONS’

US tech companies have faced increased scrutiny in Washington over their size and power in recent years.

A 16-month investigation by the Antitrust Subcommittee led to a 449-page report accusing the companies of charging high fees, forcing smaller customers into unfavourable contracts and of using “killer acquisitions” to hobble rivals.

Many of these accusations form the basis for the proposed bills.

Some of the companies have also been hit with various lawsuits claiming they have violated competition law and allege anti-competitive behaviour.