Hillicon Valley — House passes bipartisan antitrust bills
A package of antitrust bills that aim to give enforcers’ more power to take on tech giants passed the House in a bipartisan vote after a heated floor debate.
And as the House was debating and voting on the proposals, the House Democrats’ campaign arm invited members to an event with two Amazon lobbyists, according to a copy of the attendees’ list obtained by The Hill.
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Antitrust bills pass in the House
The House on Thursday passed a package of antitrust bills aimed at boosting antitrust enforcers’ ability to take on powerful tech firms in a 242-184 vote that split both parties.
Thirty-nine Republicans joined most Democrats in voting for the bills.
Sixteen Democrats broke from their party to oppose the package of bills that together would update filing fees for mergers to increase them for larger deals, allow state attorneys general to select their venue when enforcing antitrust laws and use the merger notification process to require parties to disclose subsidies they have received from countries that pose a risk to the U.S.
- It is the first major antitrust reform package to pass on the House floor as part of a three-year process that started with a House Judiciary Committee investigation into the market power of Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook, now under the parent company name Meta.
- The House Judiciary Committee last year advanced four other proposals aimed at reforming antitrust laws in a way that supporters say better addresses modern day industry titans. The proposals were created based on recommendations from the report that concluded the investigation.
- But the dwindling legislative calendar may hamper their ability to get the proposals across the finish line, especially if Republicans win the House majority in November.
But before the vote…
Democrats’ House campaign arm invited members to an event with two Amazon lobbyists Thursday, ahead of a vote on a package of bills that aim to give antitrust enforcers greater agency to rein in the power of massive tech firms, including Amazon.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s (DCCC) event Thursday at noon featured two Amazon lobbyists, according to a copy of the attendees’ list obtained by The Hill.
Dozens, if not all members, of the House Democratic caucus were invited to the event, according to a former Democratic aide on Capitol Hill.
“The DCCC is actively raising from Amazon and encouraging the caucus to raise from Amazon at the exact moment when there are House floor votes on antitrust legislation incredibly important to Amazon,” the aide said.
The Hill reached out to the DCCC for comment.
The event wasn’t solely focused on Amazon, or tech companies. The roughly 30 lobbyists on the list represented a range of organizations, including General Electric, NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood.
TIKTOK CREATORS BOOST ANTITRUST BILLS
TikTok creators are campaigning for bills aimed at reining in the power of massive tech firms in videos poking fun at the companies.
The videos are part of a campaign by the Tech Oversight Project to boost antitrust reform proposals stalled in Congress. Rather than mentioning the bills by name or including legislative jargon, the campaign leans into TikTok’s short-from comedic style to try to reach voters.
“We don’t have the deep, deep pockets that these tech companies and their front groups have. As you’ve seen throughout this antitrust campaign, through the coalition of advocacy groups that are working on this, we’ve had to resort to creative and scrappier methods to get attention,” Sacha Haworth, executive director of the Tech Oversight Project, told The Hill.
“We just simply don’t have the resources that the second wealthiest man in the world does and has associated companies,” she added.
E-book battle heats up
Hundreds of authors signed a letter slamming major publishing companies’ lawsuit against a free digital library and urged publishers to update their policies to allow libraries to purchase copies of e-books.
The open letter published Thursday escalates the battle librarians and digital rights group Fight for the Future are waging against publishers over access to e-books, an issue that librarians say has become increasingly important due to spikes in e-book lending since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 300 authors, including “Coraline” author Neil Gaiman, signed onto the letter, organized by Fight for the Future, calling for publishing companies and book industry associations to end lawsuits the authors said are aimed at “intimidating libraries.”
“We urge all who are engaged in the work of getting books into the hands of readers to act in the interests of all authors, including the long-marginalized, midlist, and emerging authors whom librarians have championed for decades,” they wrote.
DEMS URGE FTC TO OPPOSE AMAZON’S DEAL WITH IROBOT
A group of lawmakers is urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to oppose Amazon’s proposed $1.65 billion acquisition of iRobot, citing concerns about the tech giant’s anticompetitive practices.
“iRobot is a powerful market incumbent, and Amazon, given its vast resources, history of producing smart vacuums through Terra, and powerful platform, is an extraordinarily significant ‘potential entrant’ into the market: Amazon’s ability to acquire iRobot would cause substantially less competition,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to FTC chairwoman Lina Khan on Wednesday.
The letter was signed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Reps. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Chuy García (D-lll.).
The lawmakers wrote in their letter that Amazon has failed to protect consumers and consumer privacy with its popular Alexa voice system, and noted concerns about its partnership with over 600 law enforcement agencies through its Ring video doorbells.
BITS & PIECES
An op-ed to chew on: Time to follow Europe’s lead on social media regulation
Notable links from around the web:
People search websites create privacy nightmares for abortion rights advocates (CyberScoop / Tonya Riley)
In Spanish-language radio war, conservative network shifts from satellite to local after launching (NBC News / Marc Caputo)
U.S. and Russia Duel Over Leadership of U.N. Tech Group (The Washington Post / David McCabe)
🥧 Lighter click: Well, she’s not wrong
One more thing: Netflix removes LGBTQ tag
Netflix removed the LGBTQ tag from its new true crime show “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” after receiving backlash over the categorization.
The Netflix show about Jeffrey Dahmer, a gay man who murdered 17 men from 1978 to 1991, is no longer filed under the tag on the streaming service.
The genres and tags for “Dahmer,” which was released on Sept. 21, now include “Crime TV Shows,” “Social Issue TV Dramas” and “TV Horror,” as well as “ominous” and “dark.”
The LGBTQ tag is generally applied to educational media and more positive topics for the LGBTQ+ community, such as “Sex Education” and “Heartstopper.”