Growing Movement to Break Up Big Tech as Congress Steps Up
Posted on 10/06/2020
Large U.S. technology companies make up a significant part of public pension and funds’ portfolios, replacing the oil and industrial giants of the late 1990s. The House Judiciary Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee, led by the Democrat party, has held hearings to investigate the business practices of Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., and Google parent Alphabet Inc.
“As they exist today, Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook each possess significant market power over large swaths of our economy. In recent years, each company has expanded and exploited their power of the marketplace in anticompetitive ways,” said Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10) and Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David N. Cicilline (RI-01) in a joint statement. “Our investigation leaves no doubt that there is a clear and compelling need for Congress and the antitrust enforcement agencies to take action that restores competition, improves innovation, and safeguards our democracy. This Report outlines a roadmap for achieving that goal.”
After outlining the challenges presented due to the market domination of Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook, the report walks through a series of possible remedies to (1) restore competition in the digital economy, (2) strengthen the antitrust laws, and (3) reinvigorate antitrust enforcement.
The slate of recommendations include:
Structural separations to prohibit platforms from operating in lines of business that depend on or interoperate with the platform;
Prohibiting platforms from engaging in self-preferencing;
Requiring platforms to make its services compatible with competing networks to allow for interoperability and data portability;
Mandating that platforms provide due process before taking action against market participants;
Establishing a standard to proscribe strategic acquisitions that reduce competition;
Improvements to the Clayton Act, the Sherman Act, and the Federal Trade Commission Act, to bring these laws into line with the challenges of the digital economy;
Eliminating anticompetitive forced arbitration clauses;
Strengthening the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice;
And promoting greater transparency and democratization of the antitrust agencies.
A Joe Biden presidential win would more than likely include some regulation on big tech, as Democrats remain committed to enhancing the regulation of data companies, while Republicans remain divided on regulation. Republican concerns include the censorship and filter bias of tech companies like Twitter, Google, and Facebook. Since the 2016 election of Trump, Twitter and Facebook became notorious in censoring political speech from right-leaning political groups, including U.S. President Donald Trump, while allowing left-leaning groups like Antifa to promote violence in tweets against various people. Trump and many Republicans are calling for a repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which gives greater legal immunity to internet platforms.
Big Tech Hates Republicans and Loves Joe Biden
WIRED magazine recently conducted research that employees at Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Oracle have contributed nearly 20 times as much money to Joe Biden versus Trump since the start of 2019. Nearly 95% of contributions went to Biden. For 2020, the Center for Responsive Politics tallied that Facebook is ranked 7th as a top spender on lobbyists so far at US$ 10,090,000 versus Amazon.com at US$ 9,105,000.
Keywords: Amazon.com, Inc.