Sen. Chuck Schumer Pressed To Disclose Big Tech Bucks

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) (Image credit: Senate Democrats)

Fight for the Future is calling on Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to disclose any "dark money" funds Democrats have received from Big Tech.

As the Senate majority leader, Schumer controls whether a couple of bipartisan Big Tech-regulating bills get a floor vote after being favorably reported out of the Senate Commerce Committee. To date, he has not scheduled a vote and Fight for the Future wrote Schumer saying the funding needed to be out in the open to dispel the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The group, which backs the bills, said disclosure would “help reassure a public that is questioning your hesitation in cracking down on Big Tech despite broad, bipartisan public support for doing so.”

Also: Group Pushes Schumer To Watch John Oliver Big Tech Video

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; 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.

That 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.

In a press conference last month, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and other S. 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 [the latter would be Schumer] have promised a vote and need to schedule it. 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.

The airwaves and wires (cable) in D.C. have definitely been blanketed with scary ads suggesting the bills could end Amazon Prime's two-day delivery service, among just one of a parade of horribles. ■

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.