Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), chair of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee and a self-described leading antitrust reformer, has teamed with Republican senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas to introduce yet another bill designed to rein in Big Tech.
The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act addresses one of Klobuchar's longstanding concerns, which is that Big Tech got that way by buying up smaller potential competitors before they got big enough to raise antitrust red flags. Critics said that part of the motivation for innovative startups is coming up with a better mousetrap, then selling it to the Big Cheese for big bucks, so putting a damper on that would discourage innovators and the venture capitalists who love them.
The bill, according to Klobuchar, would “halt harmful consolidation” by:
1. “Giving antitrust enforcers stronger authority to stop acquisitions by dominant platforms that primarily serve to kill competitive threats or enhance the platform’s monopoly power, including acquisitions:
A. Of direct competitors;
B. That reinforce or expand a platform’s market position;
C. Of potential competitors; and
D. Of data that strengthen or expand a platform’s dominance.
2. "Shifting the burden in merger enforcement to dominant platforms to demonstrate the merger is not anticompetitive.
3. "Striking the appropriate balance for merger enforcement in digital markets by permitting dominant platforms to make acquisitions that do not threaten competition or enhance monopoly power."
“As dominant digital platforms — some of the biggest companies our world has ever seen — increasingly give preference to their own products and services, we must put policies in place to ensure small businesses and entrepreneurs still have the opportunity to succeed in the digital marketplace,” Klobuchar said. “This bill will do just that, while also providing consumers with the benefit of greater choice online.”
Said Cotton: “Big tech firms have bought up rivals to crush their competition, expand their monopolistic market share, and to harm working Americans. Under this bill, the largest tech monopolies will have the burden of proving that further acquisitions are lawful and good for the American people.”
Klobuchar has also teamed with another high-profile Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), to introduce the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which prevents larger online platforms 1) from keeping another business from interoperating with a another platform; 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.
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