The U.S. Department of Justice is officially backing antitrust legislation that would target the self-preferencing practices of Google and Amazon, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Bipartisan bills, led in the Senate by Sen. Amy Klobuchar and the House by Rep. David Cicilline, have focused on allegations that Google biases its search results in favor of its own products over rivals like Yelp, or that Amazon uses proprietary data on the small merchants on its site to boost its own brands. The measures could also force changes at Apple.
The bills have advanced out of their respective committees to be considered by the entirety of the House and Senate, prompting celebration by Big Tech skeptics that Congress is getting serious about reining in the company's practices. Both proposals, however, are facing rising opposition from traditional business-allied Republicans and moderate Democrats — especially Democrats who represent tech-heavy districts in California — who might well be able to hold up the legislation. Leaders in the House and Senate have said little about when the bills could be brought forward for consideration, even as Congress is facing a long and growing list of priorities in a dwindling number of days.
The White House is also pushing lawmakers to finally pass bills on tech, although the administration has focused more on privacy than on competition. President Joe Biden has also placed prominent antitrust reformers and company critics at the top of U.S. competition enforcement agencies, including Jonathan Kanter, a longtime Google critic who now heads the DOJ's antitrust division.
In a letter to Congress published by the Journal, the DOJ argued that the measures "would supplement the existing antitrust laws in preventing the largest digital companies from abusing and exploiting their dominant positions to the detriment of competition and the competitive process" and urged they be passed into law.
In addition to the U.S. Congress, Europe is finalizing new rules for Big Tech competition that would likewise define how powerful companies must act with regard to smaller rivals. Big companies have argued both U.S. and EU proposals risk undermining offerings that consumers love or imperiling security.