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Breaking up Big Tech in focus as new U.S. antitrust bills introduced

WorldJun 11, 2021 04:51PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Capitol is seen at sunrise. Washington, U.S. January 11, 2021. REUTERS/Erin Scott

By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced four bills on Friday aimed at reining in the power of the tech giants, with one potentially leading to their break-up.

Two of the bills address the issue of giant companies, such as Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Inc's Google, creating a platform for other businesses and then competing against those same businesses.

One measure bans platforms from owning subsidiaries that operate on their platform if those subsidiaries compete with other businesses - potentially forcing the Big Tech firms to sell assets.

"From Amazon and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) to Google and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), it is clear that these unregulated tech giants have become too big to care," said U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal, a Washington state Democrat and sponsor of this measure.

The pro-business U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it "strongly opposes" the bills' approach. "Bills that target specific companies, instead of focusing on business practices, are simply bad policy ... and could be ruled unconstitutional," the Chamber's Neil Bradley said in a statement.

In contrast, Robert Weissman, president of advocacy group Public Citizen, said "Big Tech’s unchecked growth and dominance have led to incredible abuses of power that have hurt consumers, workers, small businesses and innovation. That unchecked power ends now."

Representative David Cicilline, the Democratic chair of the antitrust panel, is an original co-sponsor of the bills, as is the top Republican, Ken Buck. The chair of the Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler, also sponsored the bills.

A second measure would make it illegal in most cases for a platform to give preference to its own products on its platform with a hefty fine of 30% of the U.S. revenue of the affected business if they violate the measure.

The third bill would require a platform to refrain from any merger unless it can show the acquired company does not compete with any product or service the platform is in.

A fourth would require platforms to allow users to transfer their data elsewhere if they desire, including to a competing business.

In addition to those four, a fifth bill would raise what the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission charge to assess the biggest companies to ensure their mergers are legal and increase the budgets of the agencies. A companion to this has already passed the Senate.

Breaking up Big Tech in focus as new U.S. antitrust bills introduced
 

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Comments (3)
Investing Man
Investing Man Jun 16, 2021 10:54AM ET
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Took democrats getting in to do something as always.
Matt Moonen
Matt Moonen Jun 14, 2021 7:37PM ET
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To see democrats come forward with big tech legislation makes me quite skeptical. They keep the line towed and are their biggest ad agency. I don't see how this will have any teeth if it even passes.
Investing Man
Investing Man Jun 14, 2021 7:37PM ET
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Lol. You hve any idea who pays ted cruz and mcconnells bills? Why do you think after 30 years mcconnells state is last in every category from education to jobs? Because he serves big tech. He never served the people. 30’years of failure proves it
Felipe Daniel
Felipe Daniel Jun 11, 2021 7:58PM ET
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It will be a farce under Democrat administration they are in bed with Big Tech they support Facebook censorship as long as it is not against anyone in the left.
 
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