Congress is one step closer to achieving a revolutionary antitrust reform in the technology industry after sending the most feasible bill to the Senate.
After hours of long debate, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the online law of innovation and choice in the United States with a 16-6 vote on Thursday. The bill, sponsored by a group of bipartisan tech hawks like Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Josh Hawley (R-MO), has a dominant tech platform that services its own more than its competitors. And the product was forbidden to support.
The Commission’s vote was successful after a week of antitrust measures from the federal government that surprised the tech industry and made lobbyists enthusiastic. While banning self-priority so that Amazon puts its branded products on top of more highly rated competitors, the bill also forces the platform to apply the Terms of Service equally to all users. increase.
Despite the success of the Commission’s vote, the bill faces a difficult battle over the next few months. In the days leading up to the vote, Apple and Google shook statements criticizing the bill and launched an industry-led assault on the bill. Tim Powderly, senior director of government affairs at Apples, warned that the bill could adversely affect consumer privacy and security, and Kent Walker, Google’s president and chief legal officer for global affairs, said. He argued that corporate search engines would be far less useful to consumers.
Specifically, Apple’s security concerns relate to the wording of the bill, which the company is concerned about allowing iPhone and iPad users to download apps outside the App Store. This provision has shattered that it can harm users who may download unscreened and potentially harmful software to their devices. If this bill is passed, it will be difficult for Apple to charge a 30% commission from developers when making purchases on the App Store.
I would like to emphasize that this bill is not intended to dissolve Big Tech or destroy the products and services that Big Tech offers.
Technical support industry groups such as NetChoice reiterated these concerns, saying that the vote was too early to give lawmakers enough time to fully understand the wording of the bill.
In a statement after the vote on Thursday, NetChoices vice president and legal adviser Carl Szabo said in a statement after the vote that lawmakers stopped trading in this closed room and instead took in the opinions of economists, experts and companies to take in the views of this rushing law. He said he needed to better understand the impact of.
The bill sponsors sought to smooth out concerns from the legal industry and its colleagues. Senator Charles Ernest Grassley (R-IA) wants to emphasize in his opening remarks that the bill was not intended to dissolve Big Tech or destroy the products and services they offer. He continued, rather, the goal of the bill is to prevent competition-hindering behavior while ensuring that innovation and offerings of professional consumers are still available.
During the hearing, senators on both sides of the aisle proposed amendments to address additional privacy, censorship, and national security concerns. Specifically, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said there are some amendments, including wording that would allow users to sue the platform for accusing them of harming themselves. rice field.
Big Tech abuse makes me happy to unleash a lawyer in court, Cruz said during Thursday’s markup.
Cruz did not propose an amendment, saying that Klobuchar and the bill sponsor are working with him to include this language in the final bill text.
Progressive groups like Free Press raise another concern: platforms like Facebook and Google tackle disinformation, and hatred and race like the White Supremacist website The Daily Stormer. It has suggested that it can make it difficult to deplatform discriminatory users and publications.
The free press said in a statement Thursday that the provision requires a platform to host hate speech and other harmful content for blacks and browns, LGBTQIA + communities, women, migrants, indigenous peoples and other targeted groups. Said that there is a possibility. It opens the door to the argument that covered platforms are illegally discriminating against providers of hatred and fake information by removing them.
Last summer, the House Judiciary Committee passed a bill similar to the one approved by the Senate on Thursday. Still, the bill has not yet been voted in the House of Representatives and must be approved by both parliaments before heading to President Bydens’ desk.
The White House hasn’t issued a statement in support of the bill, but officials met with leaders of companies that have criticized Big Tech in the past, such as Sonos and Yelp, on Wednesday.
Participants explained the challenges they face when running a business through a third-party platform to reach a large number of customers. Also, many participants find it difficult to pay both the fees charged by the platform and the overhead costs of requesting the purchase of supplemental services and advertisements to maintain the position of business users in the platform rankings. I have stated.
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