Technology

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

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
Greg Nash

Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (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.

“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 Durbin (D-Ill.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Cynthia Lummis (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 Cicilline (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.

Tags Amazon Amy Klobuchar Apple Chuck Grassley Cory Booker Cynthia Lummis David Cicilline Dick Durbin Facebook Google John Kennedy Lindsey Graham

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