Group Pushes Sen. Schumer To Watch John Oliver Big Tech Video

Fight for the Future, a group pushing new regulations on Big Tech, is taking the fight to the home(s) of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Over the weekend, the group parked billboard trucks outside Schumer’s homes in Washington, D.C., and Brooklyn, New York, looping a segment from HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on regulating Big Tech.

Oliver was famous for pushing the Federal Communications Commission to impose network-neutrality regs on internet service providers, but like many Washington legislators on both sides of the aisle, he has turned his attention to the power of edge providers.

Also: Sponsors Urge Action on Bipartisan Big Tech Competition Bill

The video billboard also directs passersby to Fight for the Future’s website, the aptly named, which will allow them to tweet the segment directly to the senator as well.

John Oliver ad

(Image credit: HBO)

Fight for the Future is looking to fight fire with fire, as it were, given that Big Tech backers have blanketed media in Washington with ads arguing the bills represent a parade of horrible from allowing dangerous malware, to essentially breaking Amazon Prime's free two-day delivery.

The bills they want Schumer to advance to a floor vote are S. 2992 and S. 2710.

S. 2992, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, is billed as preventing online favoritism.

Specifically, it would:

  • 1. “Prohibit dominant platforms from abusing their gatekeeper power by favoring their own products or services, disadvantaging rivals, or discriminating among businesses that use their platforms in a manner that would materially harm competition on the platform; and 
  • a. “Prohibit specific forms of conduct that are harmful to small businesses, entrepreneurs, and consumers, but that do not have any pro-competitive benefit, including: 
  • i. “Preventing another business’s product or service from interoperating with the dominant platform or another business; 
  • ii. “Requiring a business to buy a dominant platform’s goods or services for preferred placement on its platform; 
  • iii. “Misusing a business’s data to compete against them; and 
  • iv. “Biasing search results in favor of the dominant firm."

Reading like an app net neutrality rule for Apple and Google, S. 2710, the Open Apps Market Act, would prevent a covered company from restricting the use of alternative in-app payment systems; or from favoring their own terms of distribution, pricing or conditions of sale; or penalize developers for using different pricing terms or conditions via another in-app payment system.

It prevents a Google or Apple, for example, from using info derived from a third-party app to compete with that same app.

The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with overwhelming bipartisan support (21-1) back in February and was backed by the odd couple pairing of liberal Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and conservative Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn.

“We know as soon as Schumer watches the John Oliver segment he’ll understand why S. 2992 and S. 2710 are so important, stop stalling, and move them to the floor for a vote,” said Fight for the Future.

Democratic legislators are also pushing Schumer to hold the votes.

In a press conference earlier this month, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and other  2992 sponsors and supporters said they need to get a vote ASAP, before the August recess. She pointed out that the leaders of both the House and Senate [that would be Schumer] need have promised a vote and need to schedule it. Sen. Klobuchar pointed out that it has been over a year and there has been no vote on the bill. She also said that Big Tech has spent some $70 million on ads in the past year and employed thousands of lobbyists. ■

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.