The head of the US House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, announced on Wednesday that a package of recently introduced antitrust bills, including several that target the market power of Big Tech, will be voted on in the coming week.
The problem of large companies (like Amazon and Alphabet’s Google) providing a platform for other businesses while simultaneously competing with those businesses is the subject of two bills introduced last week.
These bills have received the most pushback because of the potential impact of one of them, which would require corporations to sell assets. Some tech advocates worry that this could spell the end of free shipping on Amazon Prime and iMessage on iPhones.
Since Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google wield so much influence, antitrust subcommittee chair Representative David Cicilline declared a crisis. At a press conference, he said, “These modern-day robber barons are growing their power from anti-competitive means.” His Republican and Democratic colleagues were standing next to him.
Rep. Ken Buck, a leading Republican on antitrust issues, has said he previously doubted the necessity of stricter antitrust enforcement but now believes it is necessary. He predicted that the GOP would gain support as more people learned about the issue.
A third bill, unlike the first two, would prohibit a platform from merging unless it could prove the acquired company does not compete with any product or service the platform is in. Fourth, users should be able to move their information to other services, including those that compete with the original provider.
A fifth bill was introduced by House members, which is similar to legislation that has already passed the Senate and would increase antitrust enforcers’ budgets and increase fees for companies planning the largest mergers. According to experts, this bill has the best chance of passing out of the five being considered.