Advertisers Warn Against Overregulating Big Tech

Advertisers are concerned with some of the legislative recommendations for reining in Big Tech suggested in a House Antitrust Subcommittee Majority report on a year-plus investigation into Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook.

The report concluded that the companies were either monopolies or dominant players who abused their power to thwart competition.

The report's legislative recommendations included "structural separation and line of business restrictions." The first would be to prohibit a dominant tech company "from operating in markets that place the intermediary in competition with the firms dependent on its infrastructure." For instance, prohibiting Amazon from selling its own products in its online marketplace. The second would limit the markets were a dominant firm can operate.

The report also suggests that any proposed purchase of a company by one of the dominant platforms be presumed anticompetitive unless the platform can prove otherwise. Currently a deal is presumed innocent of anticompetitive effects unless that can be shown to be the case.

In response to the report, American Advertising Federation (AAF) director of technology and innovation policy Jennifer Huddleston said Wednesday (Oct. 7) that the proposed legislative "fixes," including the reversed presumption, would "likely hurt consumers, would not impact the tech sector, and would set a dangerous precedent for weaponizing antitrust law."

Huddleston argues that rather than regulating Big Tech like the financial sector, "policymakers should seek smaller and more focused changes to technology’s regulatory regime. Continuing to focus on clearly defined harms and creating targeted reforms to address problems is the approach that is most likely to balance the benefits of innovation with protecting and redressing potential harm."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.