House Report Calls for Antitrust Law Updates to Address Big Tech Monopolies
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House Report Calls for Antitrust Law Updates to Address Big Tech Monopolies

House Report Calls for Antitrust Law Updates to Address Big Tech Monopolies

After a 16-month long, bipartisan investigation, the House Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law Subcommittee released a report today on the anti-competitive practices of Big Tech companies.

As part of the investigation, the committee held multiple hearings and briefings with experts to ensure they heard a range of viewpoints on how the dominance of Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook impacts innovation, privacy, small businesses, and other aspects of the digital marketplace.

In the report, the committee members found that the companies leveraged their dominant positions in their respective spheres to drive out competing companies – or by buying them up to consolidate their market share. Comparing them to the monopolies of the "era of oil barons and railroad tycoons" the report recommends remedies to restore free and fair competition.

The recommendations include:

  • Requiring 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 their 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;

  • Making 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;

  • Promoting greater transparency and democratization of the antitrust agencies.

"Our nation has a long and proud history of fighting monopolies," said Mike Lux, President of American Family Voices. "There's no question that an open internet has benefited society in many ways, but it is evident that a select few companies have monopolized the industry, allowing them to control huge parts of the economy. This stifles innovation, hurts small businesses, and results in lower wages for workers."

Today people's jobs, shopping, and communications are largely online – a trend that was accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, when in-person activities were limited. With this increased dependence on digital platforms comes outsized power and influence in the hands of a few companies. It also comes at the expense of small, brick-and-mortar businesses, many of which have been forced to close or reduce services during the pandemic. Once Covid-19 subsides, consumers may not return to their former in-person habits, which would be devastating to many businesses and local economies.

"Congress needs to rein in the dominance of the big tech companies," commented Lux. "I urge our representatives to adopt the recommendations in the House report and level the competitive playing field in the digital marketplace."

The serious and potentially dangerous implications of the unchecked dominance of these companies include the proliferation of misleading and harmful content and the security of users' personal information. To date, the major digital platforms have not shown a willingness to better regulate themselves, leading lawmakers and advocates to call for reform.

The full report can be found here.

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