The Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives approved 5 bills that limit the intervention of tech giants in the market of their field of action, which could lead them to divest their assets or split in two.
The Judiciary Committee will also continue with the decisive End Platform Monopolies Act bill, which would prohibit these tech platforms from selling products they own and control, according to The Wall Street Journal June 25.
That legislation could force companies like Amazon to divest assets, thus raising alarms for firms like Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Facebook Inc., and Amazon.com Inc., among others.
It would also prevent large technology companies from favoring their own products or services, harming other commercial users, or discriminating among similarly situated commercial users.
It also prohibits acquisitions of rivals by dominant platforms, and acquisitions that expand or entrench the market power of online platforms.
Lawmakers believe these approvals could make it easier for federal regulators to break up companies and to establish individualized rules in each case. The vote on the bill was 21 to 20.
The threshold for companies to be covered by the legislation is a market capitalization of $600 billion and with more than 50 million monthly users.
However, Microsoft “mysteriously” escapes enforcement even though its market capitalization exceeds $2 trillion, noted Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Kentucky.
For its part, the Screenwriters Guild of America (WGAW) had already warned about the dangers of consolidation in the industry and throughout the economy and saw the committee’s vote as a step that could prevent it.
“Amazon’s intention to add MGM studios to an empire that already dominates markets spanning the entire content value chain—from production via Amazon Studios, to distribution via Prime, to access to consumers via its Channels store and Fire devices—illustrates the imminent need for greater scrutiny and reform,” they wrote.
For their part, Republican lawmakers recalled censorship by big tech companies, and some Democrats reminded lawmakers that the First Amendment protects Americans from government limits on free speech, not private companies.
Nonetheless, it is to be expected that the threatened companies will redouble efforts in their defense. These bills will now face a close vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, for which no date has been set.
In fact, Apple CEO Tim Cook called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to warn her about the legislation, according to alternative media Deadline.
For his part, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, came out against the legislation, arguing that it would align big tech with big government by giving more power to the Federal Trade Commission.
Some find the bipartisanship expressed by the passage of these bills surprising. Others believe it is “a Trojan horse that conservatives must reject,” Politico argues.
It adds, “Instead, these bills would import European antitrust policy and increase corporate and government abuse of conservative voices and organizations,” and do not attack the censorship that conservatives suffer.