Senate Judiciary Committee advances antitrust bill targeting Big Tech

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A bipartisan antitrust bill aimed at stopping tech giants from "self-preferencing" their own products and services on platforms they own is headed for a vote before the full Senate.

U.S. Capitol Building. Credit: Alejandro Barba/Unsplash
U.S. Capitol Building. Credit: Alejandro Barba/Unsplash


The American Innovation and Choice Online Act passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 16-6 vote on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

Targeting tech giants like Amazon, Google, and Apple, the bill would prohibit Big Tech companies from favoring their own services in way that's anti-competitive. For example, the bill lists specific instances such as a platform referencing its own products or services in search results, or a company using nonpublic platform data to compete with similar but smaller businesses.

While the bill had bipartisan support, it also faced criticism from senators on both sides of the aisle.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who voted to advance the bill out of committee, said it specifically targets companies in her home state of California and added that it should include any company engaging in anticompetitive behavior.

The ranking Republican on the judiciary committee, Sen. Mike Lee, has concerns. In the committee meeting, he said the bill has been written too broadly and could cause "collateral damage" to the industries it was trying to protect, and to the larger tech economy as a whole.

Earlier in the week, Apple called out the legislation and urged the committee to shoot it down. The Cupertino tech giant claimed that the bill could hurt competition and innovation, and would cause "realm harm" the consumer privacy and security.

From an industry perspective, as a general rule, small businesses are opposed to the bill and the multinational corporations with valuations in the millions or billions of dollars favor the legislation.

As it pertains to Apple, the company believes that the legislation, if passed as-is, will allow side-loading of software from nearly any source. The company believes that it will lead to a rash of "malware, ransomware, and scams."

Originally, the bill applied to the largest of companies like Apple and Google. Amendments have lowered the floor on who it applies to, and opens the door for enforcement to companies with majority foreign owners like TikTok.

The legislation is headed to the Senate floor for wider debate and voting, the committee may hold another hearing on it.


Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,035member
    Why is this just gear toward high tech companies, you could target grocery store with their store brands, as well as car companies which and their parts department who only preference their own branded parts. This become more and more of an issue with the fact most all new cars can only be repaired by the dealer for anything more than standard maintenance. Some cars you can not even replace the rear brakes since the have electronic control e-brakes and it required dealer only software to disengage them. 
    viclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 14
    If it passes, I don’t think it stand a chance in court. This is so biased on one industry but not the other. This is very far away from fair.

    Can you ask Walmart to use other payment system? If you think it is nonsense, then why it is ok to ask AppStore or Google Play store to have other means of payment. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 14
    maestro64 said:
    Why is this just gear toward high tech companies, you could target grocery store with their store brands, as well as car companies which and their parts department who only preference their own branded parts. This become more and more of an issue with the fact most all new cars can only be repaired by the dealer for anything more than standard maintenance. Some cars you can not even replace the rear brakes since the have electronic control e-brakes and it required dealer only software to disengage them. 
    Because grocery stores do not have that big impact on reality and competition as Big Tech. Banning legitimate channels, content creators or preventing other providers running on the platform causes all competition problems and limits freedom of speech as well as creativity and progress (it should not  not be reserved to Big Tech by their deep pockets and ability to do hostile market maneuvers). One of examples is some social media being banned from Amazon based on weak or no properly written rules, but political correctness and feelings. Some were forced to start their own infrastructure to return those social media, but problems were still existent.

    At this point we have far too overgrown Big Tech companies who own way too many patents and block many initiatives by pulling economic tricks on smaller competitors. There are also  large tech companies like credit card processors (Fiserv - "maiframe company") who perform hostile acquisitions (OnDot) and then the people who came with the company start having hands tied in doing modern tech in cloud while owner is clueless about their potential and just keeps them in check (I spent there several months watching this menace until I quit recently).

    This is the most dangerous and antitrust laws have been already in place for 100 year, but this needs reinforcement in new paradigm just like with telecommunication took place in '80 and '90 keeping them in check.
    edited January 20
  • Reply 4 of 14
    viclauyyc said:
    If it passes, I don’t think it stand a chance in court. This is so biased on one industry but not the other. This is very far away from fair.

    Can you ask Walmart to use other payment system? If you think it is nonsense, then why it is ok to ask AppStore or Google Play store to have other means of payment. 
    Walmart isn't the only way for you to purchase products, nor is it the only place that companies can sell their products.

    The App Store however is the only way to get apps for iOS devices, with the Play Store having a huge advantage over any competition.

    It's about leveling the playing field.
    edited January 20
  • Reply 5 of 14
    viclauyyc said:
    If it passes, I don’t think it stand a chance in court. This is so biased on one industry but not the other. This is very far away from fair.

    Can you ask Walmart to use other payment system? If you think it is nonsense, then why it is ok to ask AppStore or Google Play store to have other means of payment. 
    It does... exactly the same as with telecommunication few decades ago. Read about Baby Bells. Your feelings are misplaced. This has proven to work in EVERY court.

    And to be honest you should thank for this because otherwise you would be paying for your mobile upwards $300 for AT&T service monthly today if they did not break up telecommunication decades ago.
    edited January 20 dantheman827
  • Reply 6 of 14
    danoxdanox Posts: 955member
    The Applestore is a courtesy not a right, Apple’s  worldwide marketshare is a tiny part of the total market, buy Android and be happy I’ve heard it is the Wild West free crap everywhere enjoy.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 14
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,567member
    viclauyyc said:
    If it passes, I don’t think it stand a chance in court. This is so biased on one industry but not the other. This is very far away from fair.

    Can you ask Walmart to use other payment system? If you think it is nonsense, then why it is ok to ask AppStore or Google Play store to have other means of payment. 
    Walmart isn't the only way for you to purchase products, nor is it the only place that companies can sell their products.

    The App Store however is the only way to get apps for iOS devices, with the Play Store having a huge advantage over any competition.

    It's about leveling the playing field.
    You are comparing apples to oranges. Either that or you don't know the first thing about anti-trust under the Sherman Act.

    It's not iOS or the Apple App Store that should be compared to a Walmart. It's the iDevice should be compared to a Walmart. When one buy an iDevice, one can only buy apps that Apple sells in their Apple App Store. Just like when one shop at a Walmart, one can only buy what Walmart sell on their shelves. One do not expect to buy Target branded products, while shopping at a Walmart. So why should an iDevice owner except to buy apps from other than the Apple App Store?  One don't have to shop at a Walmart and one don't have to buy an iDevice. There are choices for consumers. 


    The Apple App Store is not only app store consumers can buy or get their apps from.

    The Apple App Store is not the only app store where developers can sell their apps.

    You thinking that iOS devices is a market, shows a complete lack of understanding of what a  "market" is, under the Sherman Act.  A one branded market can not or very, very rarely can be consider, a "relevant market" for any anti-trust case involving a "monopoly". Otherwise nearly every company would have a "monopoly", when the "relevant market" consist of only their own brand.

    Microsoft do not have a "monopoly" because they have 100% of the Windows market. Microsoft have a monopoly because Windows is on over 80% of the World's desktop computers. The "relevant market" is not consumers using Windows but desktop OS. 

    Apple do not have a "monopoly" because they have 100% of the iOS market. And iOS is only on 25% of the World's mobile devices. The "revenant market" is not consumers using iOS but mobile OS. 


    With your thinking, McDonalds would have a monopoly in the market of consumers that buys Big Mac hamburgers. Sony would have a monopoly in the market of gamers that uses a Playstation game console. Mercedes would have a monopoly in the market of owners of autos with a 4Matic drive.  Marvel would have a monopoly in the market of consumers reading Spiderman comic books.  

    Having a "monopoly" or gaining monopolistic power in the "relevant market" you are competing in ......  because you are the only choice for consumers, is not the same as ..... because you are the choice of most consumers.  One can fall under anti-trust and the other can not (so long as there is no abuse involve.).  Learn the difference.

    This is not about "leveling the playing field". This is about a group of businesses that can't or don't want to compete on a level playing field and are demanding some sort of government "affirmative action".

    MacDonalds do not have to sell Whoppers in their diners because BK don't want to invest in opening a diner in the same area.

    Mercedes do not have to sell Lexus autos in their dealership because their dealership showroom attracts most the wealthy auto consumers in the area. 

    Sony do not have to allow Xbox games to work on their PlayStation consoles because they have about  60% of the game console market. 

    A movie theater do not have to allow third party popcorn venders to sell popcorn, inside their theater.

    The owner of a shopping mall do not have to allow a food truck to sell food, in the mall private parking lot.

    Want to use a CC at a Costco?  Better have a Visa CC. 

    The copyright/patent owner of intellectual property do not have to let anyone use their IP for commercial use and profit from, without compensation or permission. iOS is Apple intellectual property. US Copyright laws hands copyright/patent owners a legal monopoly with its use and monetization rights. The SCOTUS would not allow Congress to take away any of those rights, that they are suppose to be protecting. Rights that are in the US Constitution.

    U.S. Constitution
    Article I Section 8 | Clause 8– Patent and Copyright Clause of the Constitution. [The Congress shall have power] “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”

    No way will (or should) the SCOTUS allow Congress to take away any of Apple rights to iOS, by forcing them to allow third party app stores in iOS or side loading. iOS is Apple iP and not a "monopoly". iOS is not even a product that Apple sells.  




     
    danoxwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 14
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    So what exactly will this fix?   Who gains here?

    It's reminiscent of busting up AT&T to make MCI stockholders happy.

    As Obama said:   "Don't do stupid things"
    In this case, the status quo harms nobody.   But, like MCI, others want a piece of the pie -- so they (mis)use government to get it.  That hurts the nation by weakening one of its biggest and best assets.
    p-dogwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 14
    So what exactly will this fix?   Who gains here?

    It's reminiscent of busting up AT&T to make MCI stockholders happy.

    As Obama said:   "Don't do stupid things"
    In this case, the status quo harms nobody.   But, like MCI, others want a piece of the pie -- so they (mis)use government to get it.  That hurts the nation by weakening one of its biggest and best assets.
    But if they hadn't broken them up, we'd be paying considerably more for our phone service and they would have no incentive to improve their networks because of there being no competition.

    Just like ISPs with a monopoly, they would just keep overcharging for mediocre service with no improvements in sight while the CEO gets big fat raises.

    Only when there is sufficient competition do we actually see any meaningful improvement.

    And don't forget, no one is breaking up anyone here, nor does the rule Apply solely to Apple... it applies to all marketplaces regardless of what they actually sell (apps or physical) as long as they're sufficiently large

    This allows smaller competitors into the market in a way that actually gives them a chance.
    edited January 21
  • Reply 10 of 14
    dantheman827 said: Just like ISPs with a monopoly, they would just keep overcharging for mediocre service with no improvements in sight while the CEO gets big fat raises.
    A. The smartphone era has lowered the expected prices for consumer software. Desktop/laptop software prices have always been higher despite the ability of consumers on those platforms to download and install software from the internet.

    B. Have you ever seen anyone provide a comprehensive comparison of historical pricing for side loaded software on Android versus Google Play Store pricing? Why not? That should be a slam dunk comparison if side loading actually provided a pricing benefit to consumers. 

    C. Netflix constantly raises the price of its streaming service despite having moved all payments for it to the web. They actually cite "increased competition" as the reason for raising prices too, which is the opposite of how that dynamic should work. 
    p-dogGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 14
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,567member
    So what exactly will this fix?   Who gains here?

    It's reminiscent of busting up AT&T to make MCI stockholders happy.

    As Obama said:   "Don't do stupid things"
    In this case, the status quo harms nobody.   But, like MCI, others want a piece of the pie -- so they (mis)use government to get it.  That hurts the nation by weakening one of its biggest and best assets.
    But if they hadn't broken them up, we'd be paying considerably more for our phone service and they would have no incentive to improve their networks because of there being no competition.

    Just like ISPs with a monopoly, they would just keep overcharging for mediocre service with no improvements in sight while the CEO gets big fat raises.

    Only when there is sufficient competition do we actually see any meaningful improvement.

    And don't forget, no one is breaking up anyone here, nor does the rule Apply solely to Apple... it applies to all marketplaces regardless of what they actually sell (apps or physical) as long as they're sufficiently large

    This allows smaller competitors into the market in a way that actually gives them a chance.
    That is false. ATT pricing was regulated by the government. ATT could not raise their prices, without government approval. This because ATT got their monopoly because of government policies and regulations, that essentially eliminated competition, in favor having a national telephone service that was easily accessible and affordable to everyone. The government deemed that everyone in the US should have a telephone service, where anyone can call everyone. Having dozens of telephone service providers would not accomplish that. Plus local municipalities did not want more telephone poles and lines erected to accommodate all the telephone service providers in their cities and towns. 

    And as for sufficient competition leading to any meaningful improvement. ATT wasn't broken up into 7 Baby Bells. The original ATT was only broken up into two parts. The very profitable long distance service and the local calling service. The original ATT kept all of the long distance services and still had a monopoly. The local calling services was what got broken up into the 7 Baby Bells. And essentially, each Baby Bell was a monopoly in the area they covered. 

    When this happen, consumer cost of local calls went up and kept on increasing. It was never as low as it was when ATT was the only company providing both local and long distance calls. Why? Because ATT subsidized the cost of local calls with the profits they made on long distance calls. None of the Baby Bells got any profit from the very profitable long distance services, to help subsidize local calls.

    And then ATT was forced to allow others to lease their long distance infrastructures, to foster in more competition. This led to large companies like MCI and Sprint providing long distance services to the consumers, by paying ATT a lease to use their long distance lines. But for consumers, if they wanted long distance services along with their local calling services, they had to pay about $5 a month fee, just have ATT, MCI or Sprint readily available. No matter if they made any long distance calls during the month or not. When ATT handled both services, there was no extra monthly cost to have long distance service as part of your telephone service. 

    Otherwise, consumers could use one of the many prepaid long distance calling cards, which made it more expensive to make long distance calls. Or one could dial in a 10 to 15 digit code (along with the long distance phone number) of one of the many smaller companies providing long distance services and your local calling service would bill you and then collect a fee from the long distance provider for the billing service.  A fee that is passed on to the customers. But for causal long distance users, this inconvenience was still cheaper than paying $5 every month for a service they seldom used. 

    For most of the home customers that only occasionally needed long distance services, it was never as cheap as it was when ATT was the only long distance provider. Businesses  that made a lot of long distance calls saw the biggest drop in long distance service cost. It only began to drop when satellite started to replace ATT land lines.  
    edited January 21 p-dogGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 14
    p-dogp-dog Posts: 116member
    Terrible news. Back to the bad old Windoze desktop days of endless malware, viruses and privacy data compromises on our heretofore secure iPhones and iPads. Too many hotheads fail to remember those awful times in the 1990s and early 2000s, and some of them weren’t even adults then, therefore having no memory of that misery. 
    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 14
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,567member
    viclauyyc said:
    If it passes, I don’t think it stand a chance in court. This is so biased on one industry but not the other. This is very far away from fair.

    Can you ask Walmart to use other payment system? If you think it is nonsense, then why it is ok to ask AppStore or Google Play store to have other means of payment. 
    It does... exactly the same as with telecommunication few decades ago. Read about Baby Bells. Your feelings are misplaced. This has proven to work in EVERY court.

    And to be honest you should thank for this because otherwise you would be paying for your mobile upwards $300 for AT&T service monthly today if they did not break up telecommunication decades ago.

    This is no where near "exactly the same" as with the ATT breakup. ATT monopoly was 100% of the telecommunication market at the time. Not only was ATT the only long distance and local call provider, consumers had to rent ATT telephones (Western Electric) and had to pay ATT to install any extra telephones in the home (along with the monthly rent for the extra phones). Consumers had no choice but to use ATT for their telephone service. The government handed  ATT their monopoly and thus ATT pricing was government regulated. ATT had no competition because of government policies and regulations. And even with all this, ATT telephone service was never expensive to have or use.  

    None of these big techs have 100% of the market they compete in. None of these big techs services or products, are the only choice consumers have. None of these big tech services are deemed essential services by the government. None of these big tech are monopolies. None of these big techs control every aspect of the service they provide or the products they sell.  

    Most consumers did not benefit from the breakup of ATT.  

    The ATT we have today is actually "Cingular" of yesteryear. The original ATT Wireless became unprofitable and put themselves on the market to be acquired. Cingular won the bidding.

    Cingulat was owned by two Baby Bells, SBC (60%) and BellSouth (40%). The ATT acquisition made Cingular the largest wireless service. Then SBC acquired ATT corp. and changed their name to the new ATT. And then the new ATT acquired BellSouth. Now the new ATT (which is actually SBC) own all of Cingular and changed the Cingular brand to ATT Mobility (but still hold the trademark for ATT Wireless). The ATT  today, is no where near the original ATT  that was broken up decades ago. The original ATT never made it in the wireless telecommunication market. About the only thing the two have in common, are the 3 letters in their name.       

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AT&T_Mobility

    On a side note- Steve Jobs actually cut an exclusive deal with Cingular, for the 1st iPhone. But when the iPhone came out, it was on ATT. Many thought that ATT bought out Cingular, just to get the iPhone contract. But is was the other way around. Cingular bought out ATT Wireless and then changed their name to the more recognized brand, ATT. 
    edited January 21 GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 14
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    So what exactly will this fix?   Who gains here?

    It's reminiscent of busting up AT&T to make MCI stockholders happy.

    As Obama said:   "Don't do stupid things"
    In this case, the status quo harms nobody.   But, like MCI, others want a piece of the pie -- so they (mis)use government to get it.  That hurts the nation by weakening one of its biggest and best assets.
    But if they hadn't broken them up, we'd be paying considerably more for our phone service and they would have no incentive to improve their networks because of there being no competition.

    Just like ISPs with a monopoly, they would just keep overcharging for mediocre service with no improvements in sight while the CEO gets big fat raises.

    Only when there is sufficient competition do we actually see any meaningful improvement.

    And don't forget, no one is breaking up anyone here, nor does the rule Apply solely to Apple... it applies to all marketplaces regardless of what they actually sell (apps or physical) as long as they're sufficiently large

    This allows smaller competitors into the market in a way that actually gives them a chance.

    Actually, the cost of phone service to  the American people went up when they tore down AT&T -- because AT&T had been subsidizing the regular consumer with their other services..

    "Competition" is not a magic cure-all -- particularly when you tear down a highly competitive organization to do something stupid -- like to make room for lesser organizations.
    watto_cobra
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