Lobbying groups for top tech firms are pushing back against the Senate Judiciary Committee's plan to mark up a bipartisan antitrust bill on Thursday. The groups, including TechNet, Chamber of Progress, NetChoice and others, charged the committee with rushing the bill through without a substantive hearing process.
"This bill deserves a thoughtful policy discussion around its impact to our economy, user privacy, consumer harms, national security, and American competitiveness instead of being rushed through the markup process without a single hearing," TechNet SVP Carl Holshouser said in a written statement. "We urge the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights to hold hearings to learn more about potential unintended consequences of the legislation."
The Judiciary Committee did hold a series of hearings on competition and antitrust legislation last year, but none, tech groups argue, focused specifically on the bill at hand: the American Innovation and Choice Online Act.
The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Chuck Grassley, would prohibit dominant platforms from giving their own products a boost on those platforms — a rule that would take direct aim at alleged self-preferencing by juggernauts like Amazon and Google. “For too long, tech giants have used their power to suppress their rivals, unfairly put their products first in their marketplaces, and force sellers on their platforms to buy more services from them in exchange for better placement on their site," Klobuchar said in a statement announcing the markup. "A broad, bipartisan group of our colleagues agree and have signed on to our legislation to implement common sense rules of the road for these platforms."
Tech groups argue such a law would dramatically upend how the average American uses online services. “Sen. Klobuchar herself has marketed the American Innovation and Choice Online Act as highly important and critical to America’s economic future, so it’s clear such a bill requires a committee hearing to tailor and discuss the proposal,” Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel at NetChoice, said in a statement.
A similar bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Reps. David Cicilline and Ken Buck, has already passed out of the House Judiciary Committee.
While tech groups have mostly sounded the alarm on how the bill would impact the tech industry, one group, Chamber of Progress, warned Tuesday of the impact the law could have not just on tech, but on Democrats' prospects in November. “Breaking Amazon Prime during an election year would be an even bigger political disaster for Democrats than rising inflation or closed schools,” Chamber of Progress CEO Adam Kovacevich said in a statement. “If lawmakers want to regulate the tech industry, they should tackle popular issues like cybersecurity or privacy, not break two-day shipping.”