Schumer asked to ‘rein in’ Big Tech, as Amazon, Google and Facebook face new pressure

Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Greg Nash
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) leaves a news conference on Dec. 22, 2022, after discussing the recent vote on the omnibus spending package.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is facing renewed pressure from advocacy groups to prioritize antitrust bills targeting tech giants this Congress.

More than 20 organizations led by Demand Progress, an advocacy group aimed at advancing competition in the tech sector, sent a letter to Schumer on Monday pressing him to prioritize two key antitrust bills.

Both measures passed the House and Senate Judiciary committees with bipartisan support but did not become law.

The proposals target the nation’s four largest tech companies, Meta, Apple, Alphabet and Amazon. They faced fierce pushback from the companies and industry groups that represent the companies, which spent millions of dollars to oppose the bills.

None of the four companies responded to a request for comment from a Hill reporter on Monday.

The industry also fought the proposals with aggressive advertisement campaigns arguing the proposals would dismantle services consumers enjoy and lead to security concerns.

Supporters of the bills said those allegations misrepresented the bills and were scare tactics.

“Americans across party lines support government action to rein in Big Tech’s monopoly abuses, and securing the passage of these bills will advance President Biden’s vision for a competitive tech sector and demonstrate the seriousness of Congress on these issues. We hope your leadership prioritizes this in the months ahead,” the organizations wrote, according to a copy of the letter exclusively shared with The Hill. 

One bill the groups are pushing for would prevent companies from “self-preferencing” their own products and services over those of their rivals. For example, the bill would ban Amazon from placing its products higher in search results. 

The other proposal is a bill aimed at improving competition in the market for smartphone applications. The measure, which largely targets Google parent company Alphabet and Apple, aims to restrict the companies from imposing certain rules, such as requiring developers to use their respective in-app payment systems. The dominant app stores then collect fees from certain in-app payments, which has been a point of contention among app developers. 

In the letter, the groups also highlighted Biden’s support for boosting competition in the tech sector. The president wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal last month pushing for sweeping reform for tech giants, including a call to “bring more competition back to the tech sector” but stopped short of backing specific proposals.

Other signatories of the letter include Public Knowledge, Athena, the Center for Digital Democracy and the Open Markets Institute. 

Updated: 10:53 p.m.

Tags Alphabet Amazon antitrust Apple Biden big tech Charles Schumer Chuck Schumer Chuck Schumer Meta Microsoft Schumer

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