House unveils sweeping antitrust legislation that takes aim at tech giants

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 11
Following an investigation into the market power of tech giants, U.S. House lawmakers have introduced a sweeping series of bills intended to chip away at the power of Silicon Valley juggernauts.

Credit: WikiMedia Commons
Credit: WikiMedia Commons


The new legislation package is based on a report following a monthslong investigation by the House Judiciary Committee. That probe investigated the business practices of major companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

On Friday, the House unveiled five measures that target some of those business practices, which antitrust advocates believe stifle competition in the marketplace, according to The Washington Post

"Right now, unregulated tech monopolies have too much power over our economy," said Rep. David N. Cicilline, (D-RI), the chairman of the House's antitrust committee.

Some of the bills include the Ending Platform Monopolies Act, which would make it illegal for tech companies to operate a line of business that creates a conflict of interest. For example, the bill could affect Amazon, which operates an online marketplace but also sells first-party products on the platform.

The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act, another part of the legislation package, would bar tech companies from acquiring rising rivals. The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition bill would make it easier for consumers to use rival tech services together and switch between those platforms.

Another pair of bills would update filing fees and offer more funding to the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department, the top antitrust enforcement agencies in the U.S.

"[Tech giants] are in a unique position to pick winners and losers, destroy small businesses, raise prices on consumers, and put folks out of work. Our agenda will level the playing field and ensure the wealthiest, most powerful tech monopolies play by the same rules as the rest of us," Rep. Cicilline said.

It's likely that tech giants will fight the legislation, which could reshape the entire tech industry landscape. Netchoice, an organization that represents Amazon, Google, Facebook, and other tech companies, said that the legislation could undermine U.S. companies and innovation.

"At the same time Congress is looking to boost American innovation and cybersecurity, lawmakers should not pass legislation that would cede ground to foreign competitors and open up American data to dangerous and untrustworthy actors," sad Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel at NetChoice.

Although the bills are bipartisan in nature, having been signed by at least one Republican and one Democrat each, both sides of the aisle have different reasons for legislation. Democratic lawmakers are focused on combating economic concentration, while Republicans are more narrowly focused on what they call free speech issues.

Following a 16-month investigation, during which Apple CEO Tim Cook testified at a hearing in July 2020, the House concluded that Big Tech's power is monopolistic. The House began meeting to discuss potential avenues of change earlier in 2021.

The U.S. Senate is also pursuing its own antitrust regulations, and held a hearing in April. During the hearing, representatives from companies like Spotify, Match Group, and Tinder called Apple's power monopolistic.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    lam92103lam92103 Posts: 42member
    Excellent. Tech companies have way too much power and abuse their monopolies for the detriment of the consumer
  • Reply 2 of 32
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 2,035member
    lam92103 said:
    Excellent. Tech companies have way too much power and abuse their monopolies for the detriment of the consumer
    Nothing meaningful will get through a democratic Congress controlled by Tech Companies.   Zuck is probably lining up his Forward.US  allies to block this.
    GRKostur
  • Reply 3 of 32
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,691member
    “During the hearing, representatives from companies like Spotify, Match Group, and Tinder called Apple's power monopolistic.” what’s the significance of this? Show me the proportion of the developer & customer base that agree.
    killroyNoFliesOnMepulseimagesdysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 32
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,691member

    The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act, another part of the legislation package, would bar tech companies from acquiring rising rivals. The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition bill would make it easier for consumers to use rival tech services together and switch between those platforms.
    Goodbye MS Office or Windows. Goodbye Android or Gmail. 

    Is it even possible to force Apps to run on another OS?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 32
    killroykillroy Posts: 124member
    mcdave said:

    The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act, another part of the legislation package, would bar tech companies from acquiring rising rivals. The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition bill would make it easier for consumers to use rival tech services together and switch between those platforms.
    Goodbye MS Office or Windows. Goodbye Android or Gmail. 

    Is it even possible to force Apps to run on another OS?

    The government is getting more brain dead every day. The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition bill should die a painful death. MS Office works on Mac and PC.
    So does Open Office. There's Windows for ARM testing.
    GRKosturNoFliesOnMewatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 32
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,396member
    This fight will be interesting. Republicans have more at stake with, and at issue with, big tech than Democrats do. It probably won't be a party line vote.
    JWSC
  • Reply 7 of 32
    killroykillroy Posts: 124member
    This fight will be interesting. Republicans have more at stake with, and at issue with, big tech than Democrats do. It probably won't be a party line vote.

    They want the right to gaslight people so there will be more January 6 incidences.
    Dean68mattinozNoFliesOnMedysamoriaforegoneconclusionwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 32
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,834member
    Terribly misguided politicians. Will they go after generic products at target, Walmart, and other stores? 
    dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 32
    foadfoad Posts: 706member
    I always thought it was interesting that Microsoft would really get into this battle. They thought that they wouldn’t get caught in the same crosshairs? Same goes for Epic and Spotify. Acquiring the Joe Rogan show and making it exclusive can even fall under scrutiny because Spotify is the platform and now they have exclusive content. Most of this stuff isn’t going result in anything because it wants to unravel basic business ideas.
    anantksundaramdysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 32
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,185member
    Morons. 

    There is no shortage of those. 

    (This comment only applies to Apple; don't know or don't care much about the rest). 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 32
    killroykillroy Posts: 124member
    foad said:
    I always thought it was interesting that Microsoft would really get into this battle. They thought that they wouldn’t get caught in the same crosshairs? Same goes for Epic and Spotify. Acquiring the Joe Rogan show and making it exclusive can even fall under scrutiny because Spotify is the platform and now they have exclusive content. Most of this stuff isn’t going result in anything because it wants to unravel basic business ideas.

    Microsoft tried to used a third party, SCO, to sue IBM over Linux. A total misuse of the judicial system.
    dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 32
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 935member
    Lot of allegations of the tech giants abusing their platform monopolies but little point by point evidence offered.  And then there’s the question, if it’s your platform and your competing with other platforms is it really a monopoly?

    The large tech companies, including Apple, are by no means innocent babes wandering the technological landscape.  They are ruthless institutions that have grown their empires by offering customers superior services and/or product.  Achieving dominance because they offer better solutions isn’t a crime.  It’s a legitimate reward for hard work.

    Nevertheless, given their sheer dominance, additional regulatory oversight is warranted.  Other than the vagaries of monopolistic abuse laws and corporate ethics (hey, stop your laughing 😆) there’s nothing to prevent them from utilizing their dominance to shut out upstart competitors.  Some have and have largely gotten away with it (yea we’re looking at you Bill Gates).  Whether existing laws are adequate is an open and valid question.

    But we do need to ask our politicians to stop pandering to the crowd with demagoguery and start getting serious with proposed legal and regulatory changes.  Because what has been offered up so far is incompetent and destructive idiocy that, rightly, will be shot down.  The public and businesses alike deserve better.  We need real solutions.
    NoFliesOnMedysamoriaroundaboutnowFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 32
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,941member
    This is also going to affect Costco and local grocery stores they both offer their own brand product against competitor name brand products. They will write the law so it broad catch all for things they might not thought about. This will have unintended consequences.

     As the saying goes you think you have problem now wait to you see the solution government comes up with.
    NoFliesOnMeFidonet127watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 32
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,941member
    mcdave said:
    “During the hearing, representatives from companies like Spotify, Match Group, and Tinder called Apple's power monopolistic.” what’s the significance of this? Show me the proportion of the developer & customer base that agree.
    What this means, Apple has market power from its user base, they got the users more or less locked in, the cost to change it high and it’s easy for Apple to convert users from other products into their own. 

    The competition does not like this fact since they have not figured how to compete and keep customers. I think everyone would agree Apple does not always have the best solution but good enough.
  • Reply 15 of 32
    k2kw said:
    lam92103 said:
    Excellent. Tech companies have way too much power and abuse their monopolies for the detriment of the consumer
    Nothing meaningful will get through a democratic Congress controlled by Tech Companies.   Zuck is probably lining up his Forward.US  allies to block this.
    I had the same thought. Seems odd. At least one of those bills hurts smaller companies (at least their shareholders/owners) by preventing them from being acquired by larger rivals. 
    roundaboutnowwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 32
    robabarobaba Posts: 116member
    Hey if anyone wants to provide a competent, wholistic approach to computing (portable, desktop, handheld and wearable), software (os, programming environment, language, APIs and finished products), and services (iCloud, music streaming, video streaming, curated software store, game arcade) that Apple provides, with top quality components, years and years of support, and a keen eye towards security and privacy, then I will be the first to sign up.

    still waiting

    still waiting





    still waiting
    h2proundaboutnowwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 32
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,390member
    mcdave said:

    The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act, another part of the legislation package, would bar tech companies from acquiring rising rivals. The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition bill would make it easier for consumers to use rival tech services together and switch between those platforms.
    Goodbye MS Office or Windows. Goodbye Android or Gmail.
    I don’t see anything suggesting that past monopolistic/abusive actions will be undone. All that’s happened already in terms of acquisitions and takeovers/shutdowns, which is the problem triggering any attention to the issue (however misguided the suggested remedies), will remain untouched. That means all of those companies’ acquisitions stay exactly as they are.
  • Reply 18 of 32
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,390member

    killroy said:
    mcdave said:

    The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act, another part of the legislation package, would bar tech companies from acquiring rising rivals. The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition bill would make it easier for consumers to use rival tech services together and switch between those platforms.
    Goodbye MS Office or Windows. Goodbye Android or Gmail. 

    Is it even possible to force Apps to run on another OS?

    The government is getting more brain dead every day. The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition bill should die a painful death. MS Office works on Mac and PC.
    So does Open Office. There's Windows for ARM testing.
    It does seem to be the one with the least realism and logic, and the most need for understanding of platforms (which we know none of these officials has). Maybe if there were actually specificities for this part...??
    killroy
  • Reply 19 of 32
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,390member

    Morons. 

    There is no shortage of those. 

    (This comment only applies to Apple; don't know or don't care much about the rest). 
    I agree: Apple demonstrate a lot of moronic behavior. Not consistently, but that’s what makes the moronic behavior stand out even more.

    The products can be excellent, yet sabotaged by random strikes of bad design in places that the industry has known how to do for decades (muti-select, for example), and bugs. Their apparent disinterest in clearing out obvious bugs they’ve seemingly judged as unimportant to ever fix, which increases in number at every new release.

    Then there’s the obsession with adding yet more subscription services and “research projects” for products that completely fail relevancy (a car is a stupid product to develop at Apple).
  • Reply 20 of 32
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,390member

    JWSC said:
    Lot of allegations of the tech giants abusing their platform monopolies but little point by point evidence offered.  And then there’s the question, if it’s your platform and your competing with other platforms is it really a monopoly?

    The large tech companies, including Apple, are by no means innocent babes wandering the technological landscape.  They are ruthless institutions that have grown their empires by offering customers superior services and/or product.  Achieving dominance because they offer better solutions isn’t a crime.  It’s a legitimate reward for hard work.

    Nevertheless, given their sheer dominance, additional regulatory oversight is warranted.  Other than the vagaries of monopolistic abuse laws and corporate ethics (hey, stop your laughing 😆) there’s nothing to prevent them from utilizing their dominance to shut out upstart competitors.  Some have and have largely gotten away with it (yea we’re looking at you Bill Gates).  Whether existing laws are adequate is an open and valid question.

    But we do need to ask our politicians to stop pandering to the crowd with demagoguery and start getting serious with proposed legal and regulatory changes.  Because what has been offered up so far is incompetent and destructive idiocy that, rightly, will be shot down.  The public and businesses alike deserve better.  We need real solutions.
    Fully agreed. There are actual serious problems and the government seems to be utterly incapable of grasping them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of that is intentional, because of all the corporatism in our government.

    Aside from the corporatism, I think it’s the usual mix of problems: laissez-faire capitalism, and a near total lack of awareness/understanding of this industry.

    The problems aren’t tech industry problems. They’re laissez-faire capitalism problems. They’ve decided to go after this one industry that’s exercising broken capitalism, not the laissez-faire capitalism itself.

    This industry definitely has some unique problems, but they’re more along the lines of culture: the computer industry excuses itself from the kind of criticism that would be acceptable elsewhere, such as criticism of flaws in product.

    The computer industry uses special pleading to make itself immune to criticism. There are armies of tech geeks who will support that special pleading: “You don’t understand tech” and “bugs are normal; you can never be free of them because humans are imperfect”, etc., are thrown at every valid criticism. It’s completely illogical, but people believe it like religion. This culture of “broken is normal” sets a disgracefully low bar for competency.

    Then there’s the way the computer industry poisons all others: insert a computer into a non-computer product and you’ve also inserted the special pleading excuses for those products being broken garbage, not having warranties, AND having an EULA that you’ve never seen but they’ve used to point out how you’ve signed away any rights a reasonable person might assume they have (such as warranty for fitness of purpose, money-back remedies, privacy, etc).

    i could go on, but the this forum is filled with people who participate in exactly this culture. One guy keeps attacking me for using “buzzwords”, instead of arguing the actual points (I get the distinct impression that he doesn’t understand logical fallacy, and just reacts in anger to what looks like jargon). I’m basically shouting into a void.
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