First big tech antitrust bill headed for reality – Meczyki.Net

A major Senate bill that would prevent tech companies from giving preference to their products and services has passed a significant hurdle in Congress, moving it one step closer to becoming law.

Senate Judiciary Committee voted today American Innovation and Choice Online Act, Moving the major antitrust bill to a vote before the full Senate. The bill passed its committee vote 16-6 on Thursday, with five Republicans joining Senate Democrats to push the law.

The bill prohibits tech platforms from “favoring their own products or services, harming competitors, or discriminating between businesses that use their platforms in a way that would harm competition on the platform.” It would also forbid major platforms from leveraging any other company’s data on the platform to prevent interoperability with other services and to compete against them.

To accomplish its goals, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act provides antitrust enforcers with “robust, flexible tools” including “civil penalties, the right to obtain comprehensive injunctions, emergency interim relief, and possible forfeiture of executive compensation.” Will empower

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights, legislated the legislation as the first major tech competition bill to head to the Senate floor since the beginning of the Internet. appreciated. The bill could still see changes to some of the amendments that did not hinder its progress on Thursday but could still affect its final language.

While it’s still a tough slog to make for a crowded and mostly stalled legislative agenda, the bill’s momentum was enough to prompt both Google and Apple to weigh in with comments earlier this week.

“Every day, millions of Americans use online services like Google Search, Maps and Gmail to find new information and get things done,” said Kent Walker, president and chief legal officer of Alphabet Global Affairs. wrote in a blog post, “…the legislation being debated in the House and Senate could sabotage these and other popular online services, making them less helpful and less secure, and hurting American competitiveness.”

Apple also sought to intervene, write a letter Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, the committee’s ranking Republican Chuck Grassley as well as Antitrust Subcommittee Chair Amy Klobuchar, the subcommittee’s ranking member Mike Lee.

“After a turbulent year that saw many controversies about social media, allegations of whistle-blowers of long-overlooked risks to children, and ransomware attacks affecting critical infrastructure, it would be ironic if Congress had privacy. Responds by making it more difficult to protect the personal devices of Americans,” wrote Tim Powderly, Apple’s senior director of government affairs. “Unfortunately, that’s what these bills will do.”

Both companies argued that the bill as well as another law, the Open App Markets Act, would be detrimental to consumer protections. The latter bill would force companies that control operating systems to allow third-party apps and app stores, and allow developers to tell consumers where they can find the same software at better prices. .

a group of tech companies That includes Yelp, DuckDuckGo, Sonos, Spotify, Proton, Match Group and startup accelerator Y Combinator, as well as venture capital firm Initialized Capital, who spoke out in favor of an anti-self-prioritization law earlier this week.

“Findings from governments in the United States and around the world demonstrate that many anti-competitive self-preference tactics major technology companies use to achieve and establish their gatekeeper positions in the market to the detriment of competition, consumers, and innovation.” does,” the companies wrote. “The American Innovation and Choice Online Act … targets self-preference to help restore competition in digital marketplaces and remove barriers for consumers to choose the services they want.”

Regulating the tech industry is a rare issue that prompts bipartisan cooperation in Congress—another sign that the tech industry should expect new restrictions on its business, even if those proposals are still progressing at a crawl.

The bill was introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and co-sponsored by Dick Durbin (D-IL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) Is. ), John Kennedy (R-LA), Corey Booker (D-NJ), Cynthia Loomis (R-WY), Mark Warner (D-VA), Mazi Hirono (D-HI), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Steve Dines (R-MT).

The House version of the bill, led by House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David N. Sicilian (D-RI) and Ranking Member Ken Buck (R-CO), is already out of committee and ready for vote.