Policy

The Senate is ready to take on Big Tech competition now

Amy Klobuchar led a bipartisan bill that stop companies from discriminating against rivals.

The Capitol Building​

The growing bipartisan frustration with the competitive practices of Big Tech has now produced proposals with sign-on from top legislators in both chambers of Congress.

Image: Caleb Perez/Unsplash/Protocol

A bipartisan group of senators will introduce a bill prohibiting Big Tech platforms from giving preference to their own offerings, according to a release from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the Democrat leading the group.


The measure, which currently has six co-sponsors, means that the growing bipartisan frustration with the competitive practices of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google has now produced proposals with sign-on from top legislators in both chambers of Congress.

"Our country faces a monopoly problem, and American consumers, workers, and businesses are paying the price," Klobuchar, who chairs the Senate panel on competition, said in a statement. "We must put policies in place to ensure small businesses and entrepreneurs still have the opportunity to succeed in the digital marketplace."

The bill will prohibit "dominant platforms from abusing their gatekeeper power by favoring their own products or services, disadvantaging rivals, or discriminating among businesses that use their platforms in a manner that would materially harm competition on the platform."

It will also prevent the platforms from "misusing" a company's information to compete against it, "biasing search results in favor of the dominant firm" and requiring other businesses to buy the platform's offerings as a condition of good placement.

The bill echoes criticism of the tech giants, including allegations that Amazon uses proprietary data on the small merchants on its site to boost its own brands or that Google limits the visibility of rivals like Yelp in its results.

The bill has similarities to a bipartisan measure from Rep. David Cicilline, who chairs the House subcommittee on antitrust and led a months-long investigation of the companies that outlined several concerns. Alongside a package of reform proposals, Cicilline's bill moved out of committee in June, although opposition has grown to the bills and there's been little movement since then.

Procedural rules in the Senate make it easy to block legislation that only has backing from a slim majority, however, a bill with broad bipartisan support can signal that priorities are getting closer to becoming law. In addition to Klobuchar, Sens. Dick Durbin and Chuck Grassley have signed on to the measure. They are respectively the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which would oversee the bill.

A spokeswoman for Klobuchar said that additional co-sponsors may also join, and the group will introduce a full text next week. Klobuchar also introduced a package of major antitrust reform proposals in February, but that bill only counts Democrats among its co-sponsors.

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