Bipartisan legislation will restore competition to digital marketplace and rein in monopolistic practices by largest tech platforms
WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), the Vice Chair of the House Antitrust Subcommittee, joined lawmakers today in announcing their bipartisan legislative agenda to expand opportunities for consumers, workers, and small business owners by holding unregulated Big Tech monopolies accountable for anti-competitive conduct.
“A Stronger Online Economy: Opportunity, Innovation, Choice” consists of five bipartisan bills drafted by lawmakers on the Antitrust Subcommittee, which last year completed a 16-month investigation into the state of competition in the digital marketplace and the unregulated power wielded by Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.
- The “American Innovation and Choice Online Act” to prohibit discriminatory conduct by dominant platforms, including a ban on self-preferencing and picking winners and losers online. The bill is sponsored by Chairman Cicilline and co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Lance Gooden (TX-05).
- The “Platform Competition and Opportunity Act” prohibits acquisitions of competitive threats by dominant platforms, as well acquisitions that expand or entrench the market power of online platforms. The bill is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) and co-sponsored by Ranking Member Buck.
- The “Ending Platform Monopolies Act” eliminates the ability of dominant platforms to leverage their control over across multiple business lines to self-preference and disadvantage competitors in ways that undermine free and fair competition. The bill is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Lance Gooden (TX-05).
- The “Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act” promotes competition online by lowering barriers to entry and switching costs for businesses and consumers through interoperability and data portability requirements. This bill is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05) and co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Burgess Owens (UT-04).
- The “Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act” updates filing fees for mergers for the first time in two decades to ensure that Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission have the resources they need to aggressively enforce the antitrust laws. This bill is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse (CO-02) and co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz (IN-05).
“Not only is self-regulation by Big Tech patently ineffective, but it also comes at the direct expense of workers, consumers, small businesses, our local communities, and the free press,” said House Antitrust Subcommittee Vice Chair Pramila Jayapal. “From Amazon and Facebook to Google and Apple, it is clear that these unregulated tech giants have become too big to care and too powerful to ever put people over profits. By reasserting the power of Congress, our landmark bipartisan bills rein in anti-competitive behavior, prevent monopolistic practices, and restore fairness and competition while finally leveling the playing field and allowing innovation to thrive.”
“The American people sent us to Washington to get things done. Nothing is more important than ensuring every American has an opportunity to get ahead,” said Chairman Cicilline. “Right now, unregulated tech monopolies have too much power over our economy. They are in a unique position to pick winners and losers, destroy small businesses, raise prices on consumers, and put folks out of work. Our agenda will level the playing field and ensure the wealthiest, most powerful tech monopolies play by the same rules as the rest of us.”
“Big Tech has abused its dominance in the marketplace to crush competitors, censor speech, and control how we see and understand the world,” said Rep. Buck. “Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google have prioritized power over innovation and harmed American businesses and consumers in the process. These companies have maintained monopoly power in the online marketplace by using a variety of anticompetitive behaviors to stifle competition. This legislation breaks up Big Tech’s monopoly power to control what Americans see and say online, and fosters an online market that encourages innovation and provides American small businesses with a fair playing field. Doing nothing is not an option, we must act now.”
“The Committee’s bipartisan investigation into digital markets uncovered overwhelming evidence of anti-competitive conduct that has seriously impacted consumers and small businesses,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10). “I’m proud to be joining my colleagues, once again in a bipartisan fashion, to introduce a package of legislation that will restore competition online and level the playing field for innovators, entrepreneurs, and startups. Our actions today to reinvigorate antitrust enforcement will ensure that our laws can finally and effectively meet the challenges of our modern economy.”
“For innovation to thrive in our modern economy, start-ups and small businesses must be able to compete directly with industry giants,” said Rep. Jeffries. “We must also ensure that consumers can choose what online platform to patronize without one or two companies entrenching the entire market and removing all choice. The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act will help make a stronger online economy to benefit all Americans.”
“In today’s digital economy, we must give users the power to choose services that best meet their needs, while preserving investment and innovation,” said Rep. Scanlon. “The ACCESS Act opens up digital markets to greater competition, which increases pressure on large online platforms to improve quality, privacy, and security. It’s past time to expand opportunities for consumers, workers, and small businesses by holding Big Tech monopolies accountable.”
“In America, competition is central to economic growth and innovation, and when companies engage in anti-competitive tactics it harms consumers, entrepreneurs and our ability to compete globally,” said Congressman Neguse. “I’m proud to help unveil today’s bipartisan legislative agenda for a stronger online economy, a comprehensive set of bills that will expand opportunities for consumers, workers and small businesses by strengthening antitrust enforcement and addressing anti-competitive practices in the digital economy and beyond. As a former regulator and leader of Colorado’s consumer protection agency, I know how critical it is for our enforcement agencies to have the necessary resources to do their job. That is why, as part of today’s package, I am introducing the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act, bipartisan legislation which will update merger filing fees for the first time in over a decade, ensuring that parties to larger mergers pay their fair share and consumers don’t have to foot the bill for these necessary and long-overdue increases to antitrust agency enforcement budgets. Congress has a vital role to play to ensure that markets are working in a way that benefits consumers, small businesses, innovation and our democracy. Today’s legislative action is a critical first step in that process.”
“Big tech has routinely suppressed conservative voices and violated consumers’ privacy,” said Rep. Gooden. “We must rein in their destructive behavior and preserve the constitutional rights of all Americans.”
“There’s little question that Big Tech platforms are powered by massive troves of user data, over which consumers lack significant control. Americans deserve to have more ownership over their personal information with the ability to seamlessly transfer that data between platforms of their choice,” added Rep. Owens. “I’m proud to join Representative Buck in taking action to put consumers back into the driver’s seat, cut Big Tech’s unchecked power, and level the playing field for smaller platforms in the marketplace.”
“Filing fees for large mergers have not changed in 20 years yet merger activity, particularly in technology, is at or near all-time highs,” said Rep. Roy. “As we evaluate what changes to make to our antitrust laws to adapt to a new marketplace, an obvious first step is fully enforcing our existing antitrust tools by providing regulators the resources they need to go up against companies with trillions in capital. I’m proud to cosponsor the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act to level this playing field.”
The bills introduced today will be referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
Issues: Science, Technology, & Antitrust