Bill from Sen. Josh Hawley Would 'Bust Up' Amazon Marketplace

Screenshot of Josh Hawley
(Image credit: Future)

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), the freshman senator who has gone after Big Tech with a vengeance, has introduced a bill that would ban Amazon and other online sales platforms from marketing their own goods along with sellers they host on their platforms.

The appropriately-named Bust Up Big Tech Act would give the Federal Trade Commission the job of monitoring compliance, and would toughen antitrust enforcement as well.

Also Read: GOP Senators Seek Hearing on FTC Handling of Google

The new bill follows Hawley's introduction last week of the Trust Busting for the Twenty-First Century Act, which seeks to break up what he calls dominant, anticompetitive firms and crack down on mergers and acquisitions by mega-corporations. That would include by banning "all mergers and acquisitions by companies with market capitalization exceeding $100 billion." That would include Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (Google), Facebook and Microsoft.

Traditionally it was Democrats looking to bust up merged companies, but Big Tech has become an equal opportunity antitrust offender in the eyes of Republicans complaining about what they see as anticonservative bias in Silicon Valley and the power of Big Tech over online speech and action.

Also Read: Hawley Bill Would Presumptively Block Biggest Tech Mergers

Specifically, the Bust Up Big Tech Act would:

"1. Ban major companies in the business of offering search engines, marketplaces, and exchanges from competing with third-party vendors by selling, advertising, or promoting their own competing goods and services on their sites.
Example: Amazon should not be able to own Amazon Marketplace and sell their own Amazon products on their marketplace against other competitors.

2. "Ban major companies in the business of offering search engines, marketplaces, and exchanges from expanding their power and creating anticompetitive conflicts of interest by providing the online hosting and internet infrastructure services for third parties.

Example: Amazon cannot continue to operate an overwhelmingly dominant retail business and simultaneously own an enormous share of the cloud computing technology upon which the internet itself is built.

3. "Empower the Federal Trade Commission to hire sufficient staff to monitor compliance.

4. "Ensure the antitrust laws are actually enforced, by authorizing state attorneys general and private citizens to bring civil actions to ensure compliance."

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.