U.S. Home committee approves blueprint for Huge Tech crackdown
The Justice Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives officially approved a report accusing big tech companies of buying or destroying smaller businesses, Rep. David Cicilline’s office said in a statement Thursday.
With approval during a marathon and partisan hearing, the 400-page employee report will become an official committee report and the draft legislation to curb market power from Google, Apple from Alphabet Inc. (togetL.O) Inc (AAPL.O) , Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and Facebook Inc (FB.O).
The report was adopted with 24-17 votes, which were divided according to party lines. The companies have denied any wrongdoing.
First published in October, the report – the first such review of the technology industry by Congress – proposed major changes to antitrust law and described dozens of cases in which companies had abused their power.
“Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook each have monopoly power over key sectors of our economy. This monopoly moment must end,” Cicilline said in a statement. “I look forward to legislation that takes into account the significant concerns we have raised.”
The first bill has already been introduced. A non-partisan group of US lawmakers led by Cicilline and Senator Amy Klobuchar introduced legislation in March to make it easier for news organizations to negotiate with platforms like Google and Facebook.
Also in the Senate, Klobuchar tabled a broader bill in February to strengthen antitrust authorities’ ability to halt mergers by lowering the bar on ceasing business and giving them more money to spend on litigation.
The Cicilline report, whose origins were bipartisan, contained a number of possible changes to antitrust law.
Republicans have criticized big tech companies for allegedly censoring conservative speeches by pointing out that Facebook and Twitter have frozen or banned former President Donald Trump’s access to the platforms.
Despite their anger, most Republicans did not support the report’s proposed changes to antitrust law, instead discussing depriving social media companies of the legal protections they receive under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The law grants companies immunity from content posted by users on their websites.
Legislation proposed in the report ranged from aggressive measures such as potentially banning companies like Amazon.com from operating the markets in which they compete, to less controversial measures such as increasing the budgets of antitrust enforcement agencies – the Antitrust Law Department of the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.
The report also urged Congress to give antitrust authorities more leeway to deter companies from buying potential competitors, which is currently difficult.
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