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Significant changes to the Internet and Big Tech based on US antitrust bills

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Washington (AFP)

An antitrust overhaul package announced in Congress for Big Tech, if enacted, will have a wide range of implications for how people use the Internet and for the largest and most successful companies in the United States. There is a possibility.

Five bills scheduled to be voted on Wednesday could pave the way for the reorganization or dissolution of giants such as Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon while rebuilding the entire Internet ecosystem. ..

This measure will prevent tech giants from operating third-party platforms, provide competing services on those platforms, and hurt Apple, Amazon, and others.

Lawmakers are also trying to ban tech companies from prioritizing their products and services, with Google clearly in mind.

As another measure, data “portability” and “interoperability” are required. This makes it easy to quit Facebook, for example, while preserving your data and contacts.

The largest tech companies are also barred from buying competitors under the package and will have additional funding to enforce antitrust laws.

Fiona Scott Morton, a professor at Yale University and a former U.S. official who writes extensively about Big Tech, said the law is for technology companies whose key is to enforce antitrust laws in the United States and elsewhere. He said it was due to not hitting control.

“This is a regulation, not an antitrust law anymore,” Morton said.

If the bill is passed, Apple may have to sell or shut down its music services to avoid discriminating against rivals such as Spotify, she said.

“Apple will have to choose,” she said.

The interoperability requirement will be very serious for consumers as “people can join social networks other than Facebook and Instagram (owned by Facebook) and stay in touch with friends.” Morton said.

The package takes Washington more aggressively towards major tech companies, with President Joe Biden appointing prominent supporter of the Big Tech dissolution, Lina Khan, to head the Federal Trade Commission. It is among the signs that it is showing. Enforcement of antitrust law.

-“Dangerous” path-

The House Judiciary Committee is planning to vote for the package on Wednesday, with support from the Republican Party in addition to Democratic leadership, indicating a possible passage across the House of Representatives. The fate of the Senate is not very clear.

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The measure is the result of a 16-month investigation in the House of Representatives, led by Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Siciline, where tech giants are abusing their dominant position and overpowering the economy. I concluded that I have it.

Professor Christopher Sagers of Cleveland State University, who specializes in antitrust law, said the package represents a fundamental approach to addressing the growing power of tech companies.

The bill says, “The platform will operate like an airline or utility company. Airlines and utilities need to serve those who need the platform, and to anyone. It doesn’t give any discriminatory advantage (or even to myself), “said Sagers.

“These laws could also put an end to some of the most popular products,” he added.

“For example, if your iOS device or App Store is called the’target platform’, you’re not sure if Apple can continue to sell its own mobile software. It can affect products such as Amazon Prime, Google Maps, and digitized books. What else do you know about the Google Books project? “

But Sagers said, “The impact may not be bad in the long run as the market reorganizes itself and new competitors replace them. But these laws are It seems dangerous and I find it difficult to predict the consequences. “

-Blank smartphone? —

Other analysts have issued harsh warnings about the unexpected consequences of defeating the highly successful businesses that many consumers rely on in their daily lives.

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Iain Murray, Senior Fellow of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said the move would require companies such as Apple to close the App Store, ship “empty phones” without apps, or spin off the phone sector. Said it could mean.

“In most cases, the average consumer will notice a significant reduction in the user experience,” he said in a statement.

According to Aurelien Portuese of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the law reflects European digital market law and is a think tank that often reflects the industry’s view that it is likely to “distort” competition.

Portuese said the law is in a wave of resentment towards Big Tech, but it could ultimately hurt consumers by allowing inefficient companies to profit in the market. Said.

“Consumers may no longer benefit from economies of scale of large corporations,” Portuese said in a statement.

The legislative package reveals a serious lack of practical understanding of how the technology industry operates and needs to operate in order to remain competitive, relevant, profitable and innovative. “It’s done,” Futurum Research analyst Olivier Blanchard said in a blog post.

“Do big tech companies have too much power? You can certainly claim it.

“But if the goal is to continue to curb very large and very powerful businesses, Congress establishes guardrails that protect consumers and competition without bringing destructive balls throughout the system. By doing so, you can tackle the problem. “

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