Now that House Democrats have completed a sweeping antitrust investigation into Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google, they’re prepared to introduce new laws to curb the tech giants’ power.
The 449-page report published by the House Antitrust Subcommittee on Tuesday, as well as public statements by Democrats on the heels of the report, signal how they might go about changing the laws.
Antitrust court decisions in recent decades have focused on consumer welfare, but Democrats say laws need to be updated given that many tech companies don’t charge consumers for their products and have wide-ranging impacts on workers and other businesses.
Democratic lawmakers are calling for the U.S. to rein in the power of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, as well as overhauling U.S. antitrust law, in a sweeping report on the the dominance of Big Tech.
The 450-page report, released Tuesday by the House Antitrust Subcommittee, details a range of anticompetitive practices, charging the four companies with acting as gatekeepers, stifling competition, charging “exorbitant” fees and eroding democracy.
“Put simply, companies that once were scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons,” the report said.
The panel calls for sharply curtailing tech companies’ power, including force them to spin off their platforms from their other lines of business. This can be done by either splitting up tech companies or by limiting them to a single industry, according to the report.
A Democratic congressional staff report recommends changes to antitrust laws and enforcement that could result in major changes for Big Tech companies like spinning off or separating parts of their businesses or making it harder to buy smaller companies.
The staff found, after a 16-month investigation into competitive practices at Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google, that the four businesses enjoy monopoly power that needs to be reined in by Congress and enforcers.
In a nearly 450-page report, the Democratic majority staff laid out their takeaways from hearings, interviews and the 1.3 million documents they scoured throughout the investigation. They conclude that the four Big Tech companies enjoy monopoly power and suggest Congress take up changes to antitrust laws that could result in parts of their businesses being separated.
You can read the full report here.
The recommendations from Democratic staff include:
Imposing structural separations and prohibiting dominant platforms from entering
Buck said he opposes not-yet-unveiled Democratic proposals aimed at “eliminating arbitration clauses and further opening companies up to class action lawsuits.” And he said he rejects antitrust subcommittee Chair David Cicilline’s (D-R.I.) idea of advancing legislation to force structural breakups of major online platforms like Amazon.
“We agree that antitrust enforcement agencies need additional resources and tools to provide proper oversight,” Buck wrote. “However, these potential changes need not be dramatic to be effective.”
The Republican recommendations mark the first major findings to surface out of the Judiciary Committee’s probe. Though the subcommittee’s final report has yet to be released, Democrats have floated sweeping changes such as legislation to force structural separations for tech platforms similar to Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era law that split investment and retail banking.
In the memo, Buck wrote that the majority’s incoming report “offers a chilling look into how Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook have used
Countering the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on technology requires a two-part strategy: measures to restrict technology to and from the PRC, and equally important, measures to promote US enterprise and invention in the face of Chinese technological threats. Congress has taken important steps to restrict Huawei, control the export of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, and protect Americans’ privacy and security from apps like TikTok. Leaders like Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers are driving the other part of the equation, launching an American leadership strategy to beat China through technology and competitiveness with 15 bills,