Senators preview bill to stop tech giants from prioritizing their own products

Senators preview bill to stop tech giants from prioritizing their own products
© Greg Nash

Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharGOP Sen. Braun says abortion laws should be left up to states Klobuchar says 'best way' to protect abortion rights is to codify Roe v. Wade into law Sunday shows preview: Multiple states detect cases of the omicron variant MORE (D-Minn.) and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyFormer Sen. Bob Dole dies at 98 Alarm grows over smash-and-grab robberies amid holiday season GOP blocks bill to expand gun background checks after Michigan school shooting MORE (R-Iowa) will be introducing legislation to block the country’s biggest tech companies from prioritizing their own products over their rivals.

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act would prohibit dominant online platforms — likely Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google — from engaging in discriminatory behavior like giving preference to their own goods or disadvantaging rivals.

It would impose fines up to 15 percent of a company’s revenue during the time it was violating the legislation to provide antitrust enforcers much needed funding.

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“As dominant digital platforms — some of the biggest companies our world has ever seen — increasingly give preference to their own products and services, we must put policies in place to ensure small businesses and entrepreneurs still have the opportunity to succeed in the digital marketplace,” Klobuchar, chair of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee focused on antitrust, said in a statement.

“Big Tech needs to be held accountable if they behave in a discriminatory manner,” added Grassley, the ranking member of the full committee.

The companies targeted by the forthcoming legislation have been criticized by small businesses and rivals for abusing their gatekeeper status to maintain monopoly power.

Amazon, for example, faces allegations that it uses data from third-party sellers to develop its own products and then gives them preferential treatment in search. Google has been accused of prioritizing its own features, like Google Maps or Flights, on its search engine.

The bill counts Sens. Dick DurbinDick DurbinFour questions that deserve answers at the Guantanamo oversight hearing Senate dodges initial December crisis with last-minute deal Conservatives target Biden pick for New York district court MORE (D-Ill.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate Democrat says he will 'settle' for less aggressive gun control reform 'because that will save lives' Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead MORE (R-S.C.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.), Cory BookerCory BookerMaternal and child health legislation must be prioritized now Poll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season MORE (D-N.J.), and Cynthia LummisCynthia Marie LummisLobbyists turn to infrastructure law's implementation Republicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall Holiday season poses major test for Biden economy MORE (R-Wyo.) among its co-sponsors.

The legislation, the text of which has not yet been released, shares a name with a bill led by Rep. David CicillineDavid CicillineDemocratic caucus chairs call for Boebert committee assignment removal House votes to censure Gosar and boot him from committees House to vote Wednesday to censure Gosar, remove him from committees MORE (D-R.I.) that was voted out of the House Judiciary Committee earlier this summer. The companion Senate bill will have some differences but will mainly be the same, a spokesperson for Klobuchar told The Hill.

The House version of the bill, as well five more pieces of bipartisan legislation aimed at revamping antitrust enforcement, has yet to receive a floor vote amid opposition from influential California Democrats and lukewarm reception from party leadership.

Successfully pushing this bill through the Senate could reignite efforts to get antitrust reform signed into law.