Commerce Department backs key antitrust bill targeting tech giants

Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo addresses reporters after a closed-door Democratic caucus meeting where they discussed the America COMPETES Act regarding supply chain and semiconductor shortages on Wednesday, February 2, 2022.
Greg Nash

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Wednesday the department supports a proposal that aims to block tech giants from giving preferential treatment to their own products and services. 

The Commerce Department’s backing adds to the Biden administration’s support behind the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, following a letter the Department of Justice (DOJ) released last month. 

“[I] clearly agree that we need to improve competition, which increases innovation,” Raimondo said while testifying before the Senate Commerce Committee. 

“Last month, the DOJ released a views letter on behalf of the administration in support of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, and the department and I certainly support that and concur with the aim of the legislation and the views expressed in that views letter,” she added. 

The bill has bipartisan support and advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in January in a 16-6 vote, but even supporters expressed reservations about the current bill, meaning it may undergo some major changes before it reaches the Senate floor.

The proposal would block dominant online companies such as Amazon, Apple, Meta and Google from preferencing their products and discriminating against rivals on their platforms. 

A version of the bill advanced out of the House Judiciary Committee last summer but along with the handful of bills that passed during the marathon markup session has not been called to a vote on the House floor. 

During Wednesday’s hearing, Raimondo also threw her support behind the Kids Online Safety Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). 

“I think this is long-overdue legislation. The goals of your legislation are laudable, and as a Commerce Secretary, I feel equally strongly about it. It’s long overdue. We see the corrosive effects, so, yes, I’ll help you in any way,” Raimondo said. 

The proposal would require social media platforms to take additional measures to keep children under 16 safe online, including by providing families with safety tools and additional transparency measures.

Tags Amazon antitrust legislation Apple big tech Commerce Department Facebook Gina Raimondo Google Joe Biden Meta

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