Skip to main content

Sponsors Urge Action on Bipartisan Big Tech Competition Bill

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) at 2022 news conference
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) (Image credit: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Facing a multimillion-dollar TV ad campaign by Big Tech to try and stop their online competition bill, sponsors of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act said they will not be thwarted by a campaign they assert is full of lies and disinformation.

But the legislators also suggested the campaign may be working since the bill has yet to make it to the floor after a year of work refining the bill with input from stakeholders.

The bill's targets are chiefly Google, Amazon and Apple, all members of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which is funding the ad campaign.

In a press conference, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and her bill co-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 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.

Also: CCIA Study Asserts Edge Regs Could Be $300 Billion Economic Hit

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act was introduced back in October 2021 by Klobuchar, chair of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee and a self-described leading antitrust reformer, and Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member, who joined Klobuchar at the press conference to press for a vote.

The bill would prevent an online platform from: 1) keeping another business from interoperating with a dominant platform of other business; 2) requiring a business to buy a dominant platform’s products or services in order to get preferred placement; 3) “misusing” a business“s data to compete against it, and 4) biasing search in their favor.

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.

At the press conference, Grassley said that their bill is the best way to address Big Tech's power over “what we buy, see, read and say online.” He said those tens of millions on TV ads were from rant groups spreading “falsehoods” about the bill. “They want to protect the status quo, which allows them to expand influence over the decisions of small businesses or consumers.”

Bill sponsor Rep. David Cicciline (D-R.I.) said the three big lies in the Big Tech ad campaign are that the bill would threaten choice, privacy and national security, none of which he suggested was remotely true.

Looking to aid the bill sponsors' effort, following the June 8 press conference, the Fight for the Future said it had launched a new website, pledging to press Congress to hold votes on the bill in the House and Senate. ■

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.