US parliamentarians attack monopolies of tech giants

Democratic and Republican lawmakers in the US Congress on Friday introduced five bills directly targeting «monopoles» tech giants Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google, a vast effort whose adoption remains uncertain.

“Currently, unregulated tech monopolies have too much power over the economy”, wrote Democrat David Cicillin, chairman of an anti-monopoly committee in the House of Representatives. “They are in a unique position to pick winners and losers, destroy small businesses, raise prices for consumers, and put people out of work.” His Republican colleague Ken Buck added that their bills “Break Big Tech’s monopoly power over what Americans can see and say online, fosters an online marketplace that encourages innovation, and gives small American businesses a level playing field.”. “Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google have prioritized power over innovation and in so doing have hurt American businesses and consumers”, he accused.

The five bills were drafted by elected officials who are all members of this “antitrust” sub-committee, which in 2020 completed a 16-month investigation into “Gafa” and drafted a report advocating splits within Gafa, accused of abuse of a dominant position. Concretely, one of these texts prohibits the acquisition of small groups threatening “Dominant platforms” for the sole purpose of making them disappear. Another “Prohibits groups like Amazon from manipulating their online market to promote their own products”.

“The biggest change” since 1890

If Democrats and Republicans united to write them, they are not however guaranteed to be approved in Congress. Republicans hostile to “Gafa” could in particular be more resistant to voting on such “antitrust” laws. The organization Computer & Communications Industry Association, of which Amazon, Facebook and Google are part, had demanded Friday, before their official presentation, public hearings on these texts which would represent, according to it, “The biggest change in American anti-monopoly policies since 1890”.

Like her, the American Chamber of Commerce is also concerned that they are particularly targeting certain companies. “Laws that target specific companies, instead of focusing on business practices, are simply bad policies, are fundamentally unfair and could be deemed unconstitutional,” said its vice president Neil Bradley.

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