Big Tech-Targeted Senate Bill Introduced

Capitol Hill
(Image credit: Architect of the Capitol)

As advertised last week, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), joined by a bipartisan chorus of others, including Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), have introduced a bill that would crack down on Big Tech.

The tech industry immediately fired back against the bill.

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act prevents an online platform 1) from keeping another business form interoperating with a dominant platform of other business; 2) from requiring a business to buy a dominant platform's wares to get preferred placement; 3) from "misusing" a business's data to compete against it; and 4) from biasing search in their favor.

The bill only applies to larger platforms, defined as "at least 50,000,000 U.S.-based monthly active users on the online platform; or has at least 100,000 U.S.-based monthly active business users on the online platform; or is a critical trading partner, defined as a person with the ability to impede access of a business user to its customers and users or to a tool or service it needs to serve those users or customers."

Also Read: Big Tech Says Texas Social Media Law Is a Big Mistake

Bill co-sponsors include Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.).

Consumer Technology Association president Gary Shapiro said the bill would do irreparable harm to U.S. companies, including by putting them at a disadvantage to China and other nations. "The bill allocates vast new powers to the FTC, allowing the commission to ignore the consumer welfare standard, while imposing massive fines with minimal due process," he said.

The bill allows civil penalties for violations of up to 15% of U.S. revenue for the duration of the violation and authorizes a court to penalize a CEO or corporate officer an amount equal to their compensation for the 12 months preceding or following a complaint.

But Shapiro was not through. “Further, the bill will take away features and functions that millions of Americans love and use in their everyday lives," he said. "Say goodbye to Amazon Prime free shipping, Google maps in search results, preinstalled iPhone apps and many more."

“The Senate proposal, like its House companion, requires nondiscrimination between products, services, or lines of businesses offered by only a handful of online services that would have the unintended consequences of disrupting Americans’ use of integrated tech services they like, and weakening U.S. competitiveness," said Computer & Communications Industry Association VP Arthur Sidney.

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.