Senators introduce bipartisan bill to limit mergers by tech giants

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) leaves the Senate Chamber for a nomination vote on Tuesday, October 5, 2021.
Greg Nash

A bipartisan bill that aims to limit tech giants from making acquisitions that harm competition or reduce consumer choice was introduced in the Senate Friday. 

Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Tom Cotton’s (R-Ark.) proposal is a companion bill to one that advanced out of the House Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support in June, and is the latest that Klobuchar, the chair of the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, has introduced with GOP support that targets the market power of tech giants. 

The bill, known as the Platform Competition and Opportunities Act, would give antitrust enforcers stronger authority to stop acquisitions by dominant platforms that primarily serve to kill competitive threats. 

It would also shift the burden onto dominant platforms to demonstrate that a merger is not anticompetitive.

The proposal comes as regulatory agencies are taking on the market power of tech giants. But critics argue antitrust enforcers are ill equipped with outdated laws. 

Allegations of anticompetitive acquisitions are the focus of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) case against Facebook over its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. 

Facebook has pushed back on the allegations, most recently filing a motion to dismiss the FTC’s amended complaint arguing it “competes vigorously” with social media companies such as TikTok, Twitter and YouTube. 

The Platform Competition and Opportunities Act is just one of a handful of proposals the House Judiciary advanced. 

Last month Klobuchar and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which also aims to revamp antitrust law. The bill would block tech giants from prioritizing their own products over their rivals. The proposal shares a name with one of the bills the House Judiciary advanced.

Tags Amy Klobuchar anticompetition anticompetitive Antitrust issues Antitrust laws Big tech Chuck Grassley Facebook Federal Trade Commission FTC Instagram tiktok Tom Cotton Twitter

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