Klobuchar defends bill that would bar Big Tech from preferring their own services

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At a Senate committee on Big Tech, Sen. Amy Klobuchar pushed back against claims that her legislation to bar companies from self-preferencing their own platforms will hurt consumers.

U.S. Capitol Building
U.S. Capitol Building


Back in October, Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Chuck Grassley introduced the bipartisan "American Innovative and Choice Online Act." The proposed bill would limit the ability for major tech companies to feature and prefer its own services over those of rivals.

At a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Thursday, Klobuchar shot down claims that the bill would harm consumer choice.

"It's just that our laws haven't caught up to a major, major part of our economy. And my view has always been that competition is good for innovation," she said. "We've heard a lot of claims that somehow doing something is going to undermine the tech companies, but in fact, they are doing just fine and what we want to make sure is we continue to foster competition."

Despite the defense of the new bill, the committee hearing on Thursday focused on algorithms -- and, more specifically, how social media platforms design their algorithms to drive user engagement.

This isn't the first time that Klobuchar has taken aim at Big Tech. Earlier in 2021, for example, she introduced new legislation that could bolster antitrust regulators with additional power.

She also heads up the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    How does anybody claim with a straight face that something like this that will obviously help consumers could possibly 'hurt consumers'?

    Oh, right.  Bribery.
    williamlondonbaconstangMplsPKTRGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 2 of 37
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,983member
    So, let me try and understand this hogwash. If I buy an iPhone from Apple, they have to push all non-Apple software over their own. When I buy a car made by xxxx I expect to have it furnished with products made by xxxx not from a different auto manufacturer. If I want an Alpine deck I’ll get that after I buy the car with the xxxx-furnished deck. Isn’t this what Apple is doing? Consumers can always add whatever else they want to but I’m buying the iPhone (xxxx car) with what Apple offers. I’m not buying the chassis from one company and the engine from another. 
    leehericksyojimbo007MacProscdundaslkrupp
  • Reply 3 of 37
    Sure.  Why wouldn't I want the app that works seamlessly with my new device to be buried with a hundred crap apps?
    MacPromike1GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 4 of 37
    darkvader said:
    How does anybody claim with a straight face that something like this that will obviously help consumers could possibly 'hurt consumers'?

    Oh, right.  Bribery.
    If you diminish the product, cripple it, then you hurt all the satisfied customers and you hurt the capitalistic incentives of the company producing the product. 
    Nothing about bribery, wtf. I'll tell you with a straight face, that as an iPhone user since iPhone 3G and an iOS developer, all this legislature is ridiculous and I don't want the government forcing changes to it.

    You don't tell Best Buy not to promote their protection plans, instead let someone else offer an insurance service in your store.
    You don't tell Nintendo not to promote their first-party games on the console platform they created.
    Why should you tell Apple they can't promote services to enrich the iPhone experience, on the platform they created?
    beowulfschmidtscdundaskurai_kagebaconstangKTR
  • Reply 5 of 37
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,234member
    darkvader said:
    How does anybody claim with a straight face that something like this that will obviously help consumers could possibly 'hurt consumers'?

    Oh, right.  Bribery.
    What bribery do you think has happened?
  • Reply 6 of 37
    It's a bit moronic. Competitors need to build better mousetraps, not simply steal the cheese from other's...

    Should Nordstroms promote Macy's?

    25 years ago or so, Apple was in big trouble, on the balls of its ass as they say. Through leadership and innovation, its changes somewhat since then...

    Don't bork what works well. That's unfortunately the typical government thought process. Go work on the border, China, Russia, the ever-growing welfare state, rampant and rising crime and social decay, the insane debt, social security on the brink... you know, little things like that...
    edited December 2021 scdundasbaconstang
  • Reply 7 of 37
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,659member
    For those that have a hard time comprehending this - companies like Apple make hardware and also sell services. All this bill is doing is saying there has to be a modicum of separation between the two. It's not saying they can't offer their service, it's just saying they have to give other services an equal opportunity. Not sure what's so bad about that.
    darkvadermuthuk_vanalingamnarwhalwilliamlondonKTR
  • Reply 8 of 37
    danoxdanox Posts: 1,042member
    MplsP said:
    For those that have a hard time comprehending this - companies like Apple make hardware and also sell services. All this bill is doing is saying there has to be a modicum of separation between the two. It's not saying they can't offer their service, it's just saying they have to give other services an equal opportunity. Not sure what's so bad about that.


    Nokia, Blackberry, Motorola, IBM, Palm, Sony, Sun, SGI, Digital, Commodore Amiga, Be OS, Atari, and Wang, have one thing in common they just gave up.

    Britain and Norway, both had North Sea oil and Holland had North Sea gas, of the three only Norway (also working on Thorium reactors too along with Israel) planned ahead with the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund, it is not Apple problem nor Norway if the others were short sighted……
    scdundaslkruppkurai_kagebaconstang
  • Reply 9 of 37
    MplsP said:
    For those that have a hard time comprehending this - companies like Apple make hardware and also sell services. All this bill is doing is saying there has to be a modicum of separation between the two. It's not saying they can't offer their service, it's just saying they have to give other services an equal opportunity. Not sure what's so bad about that.
    This whole situation feels like a clash of assumptions.

    Apple is claiming, with justification, that because they make the whole widget and that is their unique selling point, forcing the company to allow others into the process as "equal" partners will damage their business. Apple works hard to integrate everything they do into a seamless, safe and secure experience for their customers, so they don't see what they provide as being able to be divided up into sets of functionality: Apple products are "more than the sum of their parts."

    The legal system does not accept this concept as workable (hence the drama around the iPhone patents). Instead, everything is simply constructed from modular pieces, and these pieces eventually become commoditised. From the government's point of view, they are simply applying this concept to regulation because history shows that commoditisation of modular pieces results in purchase prices coming down, which is viewed as prima facie good for the consumer. Without a methodology for determining the price of the benefit gained by retaining an integrated system, there is no data to support that choice, which makes it more likely to be challenged, which means more effort to support it.

    And it's a little murkier when you add in Apps and Services. These are clearly separate from the devices – extensions to the Apple ecosystem – so Apple's argument gets weaker here. But the App Store is a key part of the ecosystem, yet it is also separate from the devices. Who knows the full extent of the integration between Apple's devices, software, and systems? Who can therefore accurately predict the outcome of forcing a separation between them?

    And the same applies to Microsoft, and Google: they claim to offer modular systems with interchangeable pieces, but isn't it funny how all the Office/Google Apps work so well together but aren't designed to work equally well with apps from other developers? And yet the Google Apps are "free" (big asterisk, mumble mumble data harvesting and analysis mumble advertising cough). Android is also "free" but, oh, guess what manufacturer, if you want it to be "real" Android then you have to have the Google Play Store and that costs money, plus you cannot then sell Android Open Source Project devices.

    This is a nuanced issue, and governments have not, historically, dealt well with nuance - especially in the technology space.
    scdundaskurai_kage
  • Reply 10 of 37
    I'm curious as to how many of the commenters above have actually read the text of the bill? No, @rob53, there is nothing whatsoever that would require Apple to push other people's apps over theirs. No, @baconstang, it's fine to pre-install your app if it will "maintain or enhance the core functionality of the covered platform", since that is explicitly allowed, so your well-integrated apps will be just fine, as long as other App vendors have the option to integrate their apps too. No, @leehericks, there is no obligation to cripple the platform; there is only an obligation to not unfairly promote your applications over third party applications, and this would indeed apply just as well to Nintendo as to Apple. @thrang, no Nodrstrom would not be required to promote Macy's, but Amazon, who operate as both a marketplace and a product vendor, would not be allowed to preferentially promote their own products over better-matching third party products in search results.

    It's not good for innovation, or for the user, for App vendors to be required to use OS vendors' payment platforms if they don't want to (users can decide for themselves). It doesn't help the consumer if there is no way to change the defaults so that they can choose to use a different browser if they prefer (and no, the legislation says nothing about mandating that the defaults themselves be changed). It doesn't support competition if companies like Amazon that are both marketplaces and product vendors place their own products ahead of all others in their search results.

    Big Tech companies have a profit motive to control everything and to lock everyone else out, and that is NOT good for consumers. Before your criticise the legislation it would be a good idea to at least read it:
    muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondon
  • Reply 11 of 37
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,492member
    MplsP said:
    For those that have a hard time comprehending this - companies like Apple make hardware and also sell services. All this bill is doing is saying there has to be a modicum of separation between the two. It's not saying they can't offer their service, it's just saying they have to give other services an equal opportunity. Not sure what's so bad about that.
    Imagine the same situation if applied to say, your new car.  Some things are just better all round kept in house. That’s why Apple gear works better than Android. It’s that simple. It’s not as if consumers are forced to buy into the Apple eco system. Not that long ago many didn’t claiming the “walled garden” was so limiting. Now, years later many have decided with their wallets they prefer it. Why would you want to force the walls down?
    scdundasbaconstang
  • Reply 12 of 37
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,109member
    crowley said:
    darkvader said:
    How does anybody claim with a straight face that something like this that will obviously help consumers could possibly 'hurt consumers'?

    Oh, right.  Bribery.
    What bribery do you think has happened?
    I believe the official term is “Campaign Contribution “. 
    scdundasMplsPnarwhalbaconstang
  • Reply 13 of 37
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,995member
    MplsP said:
    For those that have a hard time comprehending this - companies like Apple make hardware and also sell services. All this bill is doing is saying there has to be a modicum of separation between the two. It's not saying they can't offer their service, it's just saying they have to give other services an equal opportunity. Not sure what's so bad about that.
    It's not hard to comprehend, but still begs the question, Why?

    Why is it Apple's (or anyone else's) responsibility to allow equal access to their platform?
    It's up to others to build a better mousetrap.
    That said, Apple already offers other competing services. I can also get Music apps from Amazon, SiriusXM, Spotify, iHeart and several others.
    In addition, I can easily get video content apps from Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, Paramount, Peacock and many more.

    It's up to all of them to promote their worth and value to consumers, not Apple.

    baconstang
  • Reply 14 of 37
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,659member
    mike1 said:
    MplsP said:
    For those that have a hard time comprehending this - companies like Apple make hardware and also sell services. All this bill is doing is saying there has to be a modicum of separation between the two. It's not saying they can't offer their service, it's just saying they have to give other services an equal opportunity. Not sure what's so bad about that.
    It's not hard to comprehend, but still begs the question, Why?

    Why is it Apple's (or anyone else's) responsibility to allow equal access to their platform?
    It's up to others to build a better mousetrap.
    That said, Apple already offers other competing services. I can also get Music apps from Amazon, SiriusXM, Spotify, iHeart and several others.
    In addition, I can easily get video content apps from Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, Paramount, Peacock and many more.

    It's up to all of them to promote their worth and value to consumers, not Apple.

    It’s called a monopoly. The government has a long history of antitrust regulation, and the consumer benefits of strong competition are well known. (This isn’t just about Apple, either.)

    It’s hard for another company to prove their worth and value if they never have a chance. 
    muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondon
  • Reply 15 of 37
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,572member
    MplsP said:
    mike1 said:
    MplsP said:
    For those that have a hard time comprehending this - companies like Apple make hardware and also sell services. All this bill is doing is saying there has to be a modicum of separation between the two. It's not saying they can't offer their service, it's just saying they have to give other services an equal opportunity. Not sure what's so bad about that.
    It's not hard to comprehend, but still begs the question, Why?

    Why is it Apple's (or anyone else's) responsibility to allow equal access to their platform?
    It's up to others to build a better mousetrap.
    That said, Apple already offers other competing services. I can also get Music apps from Amazon, SiriusXM, Spotify, iHeart and several others.
    In addition, I can easily get video content apps from Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, Paramount, Peacock and many more.

    It's up to all of them to promote their worth and value to consumers, not Apple.

    It’s called a monopoly. The government has a long history of antitrust regulation, and the consumer benefits of strong competition are well known. (This isn’t just about Apple, either.)

    It’s hard for another company to prove their worth and value if they never have a chance. 

    In what market is Apple a monopoly?
    mike1williamlondonbaconstangKTR
  • Reply 16 of 37
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    darkvader said:
    How does anybody claim with a straight face that something like this that will obviously help consumers could possibly 'hurt consumers'?

    Oh, right.  Bribery.

    Yes, investigations and regulations of tech companies typically lack either of two necessary elements:
    --  A defined problem that is hurting the country or its people
    --  A defined benefit to the country or its people

    So, they just start with trash talk and mostly or partially false accusations.

    As for bribery:  Since Citizens United made it necessary for all politicians to accept bribes in the form of campaign contributions in order to win and hold their seat, ALL American politicians are accepting bribes.
    ...  Campaign finance is one of several areas that need to be cleaned up if we are to keep Ben Franklin's Republic which is being assaulted and undermined from within.
    baconstang
  • Reply 17 of 37
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    Klobuchar has a lot good qualities that make her an asset to the country.
    Intelligence, logic, and reasoning ability do not seem to be among them though.

    Further:  with all the challenges this country is facing, even if it were legitimate, why would this even come up?  It's like talking about redecorating the living room while the house is burning.
    edited December 2021 DAalsethbadmonkbaconstang
  • Reply 18 of 37
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,606member
    DAalseth said:
    crowley said:
    darkvader said:
    How does anybody claim with a straight face that something like this that will obviously help consumers could possibly 'hurt consumers'?

    Oh, right.  Bribery.
    What bribery do you think has happened?
    I believe the official term is “Campaign Contribution “. 
    No, the official term is "lobbying". 

    All one has to do is to google ........ "Klobuchar and Coalition of App Fairness" to see how bribery works. Though I'm sure it's not the 'bribery" Darkvader was referring to. 

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/03/05/technology-202-state-legislatures-across-country-are-targeting-app-stores/

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/24/technology/apple-google-coalition-epic-match-spotify.html


    And if you think the "Coalition of App Fairness" is a consumer group lobbying for the good of the consumers, I think Darkvader is still the owner of a few bridges that he/she might want to sell you. 
    edited December 2021
  • Reply 19 of 37
    One thing that I believe SHOULD be implemented: if Apple has a service like Apple Music that DOES NOT pay the Apple tax, why should competitor Spotify have to pay the Apple tax? As things stand now, any software or service category that Apple enters has an unfair advantage over competitors. Ideally, product categories Apple competes in should NOT charge the competition a commission on Apple's platforms.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 20 of 37
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    crowley said:
    darkvader said:
    How does anybody claim with a straight face that something like this that will obviously help consumers could possibly 'hurt consumers'?

    Oh, right.  Bribery.
    What bribery do you think has happened?

    Since Citizens United (and even before) every U.S. politician has to accept bribes (urrr, I meant "campaign contributions") if they want to win and hold their seat.   It's one of many things undermining our democracy.
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