The House of Representatives on Thursday passed antitrust legislation targeting the dominance of Big Tech companies by giving states greater power in competition cases and increasing money for federal regulators. .
The bipartisan measure passed by a margin of 242-184 votes. It is separated from more ambitious terms for control purposes Meta, Google, Amazonand Apple and cleared by key committees of the House and Senate. Those proposals have languished for months, leaving the companies time for vigorous lobbying campaigns against them.
The more restrictive measure would give states an edge over companies in choosing the location of courts that decide federal antitrust cases. Proponents argue that the change would prevent the “advantage of home court” that Big Tech companies enjoy in federal court in Northern California, where many cases are heard and many companies headquarters.
Many state attorneys general have pursued antitrust lawsuits against industry, and many have joined with the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission in landmark lawsuits against Google and the Federal Trade Commission. Meta (then known as Facebook), in late 2020.
The bill would also increase the filing fees companies pay to federal agencies for all proposed mergers valued at $500 million or more, while reducing fees for small and medium sized transactions. The purpose is to increase revenue for federal enforcement efforts.
Under the bill, companies seeking approval for a merger would be required to disclose subsidies they receive from countries deemed to pose an economic or strategic risk to the United States — particularly. especially China.
“We find ourselves in an exclusive moment as a nation,” Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., said ahead of the vote. “Billion-dollar corporations have grown into huge fortunes, eliminating any real competition in their industries and using their dominance to hurt small businesses. and consumers. Meta’s exclusive power has allowed it to harm women, children and people of all ages without asking. Amazon used its dominance to copy competitors’ products and run small businesses.”
The Biden The administration, which has pushed for antitrust legislation targeting Big Tech, endorsed the bill this week.
The act drew fierce opposition from conservative Republicans, who split from their GOP colleagues in support of the bill. Conservatives oppose the proposal to increase revenue for antitrust regulators, arguing that the FTC has acted excessively under President Joe Biden.
Representative Tom McClintock, R-Calif., describes the FTC’s leader, Lina Khan, as “a radical leftist seeking to replace consumer decisions with his own.”
Another California Republican, Representative Darrell Issa, told his colleagues, “If you want to stifle innovation, vote for this.”
If Republicans win control of the House or Senate in the November election, they will no doubt try to paralyze the FTC’s operations and challenge a broader interpretation of its legal authority. it.
More sweeping antitrust proposals would restrict powerful tech companies from prioritizing their own products and services over rivals on their platforms and could even lead to breakups. forced separation of the company’s dominant platform from their other businesses. For example, it could prevent Amazon from directing consumers to its own brands and away from competitors’ products on its giant e-commerce platform.
The drafting of that law marked a new turning point in Congress’ efforts to curb tech giants’ dominance and anti-competitive practices that critics say hurt people. consumption, small businesses and innovation. But the proposal is complicated and has drawn opposition to several provisions from lawmakers on both sides, though all have condemned the tech giants’ behavior.
Lawmakers faced a delicate task as they tried to tighten the reins around a powerful industry where services, mostly free or nearly so, favored by consumers. enjoy and stick with everyday life.
So with the time to act running out with the November election looming in about six weeks, lawmakers have extracted less controversial terms about antitrust court locations and fees. filed merger applications, including them in the newly passed bill.
Lawmakers have added provisions targeting foreign subsidies for US companies. Republicans are particularly critical of China’s ownership of the popular video platform TikTok.
In the Senate, Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, is sponsoring similar legislation with Republicans Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Mike Lee of Utah.
“Effective antitrust enforcement is critical to ensuring consumers and small businesses have the opportunity to compete,” Klobuchar said in a statement Thursday.