Big tech has been accused of monopolizing their platforms to favor their products and services over competitors. Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple are accused of this.
In light of this, a group of bipartisan senators took it upon themselves to curb the access of big tech with new anti-trust legislation. The group was led by Democrat Senator Amy Klobuchar and Republican Senator Chuck Grassley.
Both lawmakers are proposing the American Innovation and Choice Online Act. The bill will ensure big tech has a level playing ground on their platforms where competitors can thrive.
When companies face little competition & have no rules of the road, we know what happens—they play fast & loose—or to quote Facebook, they ‘move fast & break things.’ That's why I continue to advocate for much-needed changes to our laws on antitrust, privacy, & consumer safety. https://t.co/HfQ3SqU1PW
— Senator Amy Klobuchar (@SenAmyKlobuchar) October 5, 2021
Allegations Against Big Tech
Big tech is accused of manipulating their platforms to push their services or products and stifle competition. For example, Amazon often favors its in-house products over competitors’ products. The e-commerce giant does this, even when other products have more reviews, higher customer ratings, and more sales.
Moreover, Amazon is accused of repeatedly using the data it took from third-party sellers on its platform to create knock-off varieties of the best-selling products. In addition, one of the allegations against Google is it manipulates search rankings on its platform to promote its services and products.
Apple also faced criticism for preinstalling its apps on all iPhones. Aside from that, the company is accused of monopolizing the App Store. However, these companies denied all accusations and maintained they do not engage in illicit self-preferencing activities.
The Intention of the Proposed Legislation
The new legislation wants companies to be stopped from using bias in search results in favor of their services or products. In addition, companies would be barred from using competitors’ data to work against them.
Not only that, but big tech should not require customers to purchase their products to get preferential treatment. Senator Amy Klobuchar noted the bill would help America deal with the monopoly problem it faces.
She also claims it would help open the markets and bring back fair competition in a market dominated by a few big companies. Furthermore, Senator Dick Durbin said the regulations would help fight big tech’s strong-arm tactics to put competitors and consumers at a disadvantage.
Senator Chuck Grassley then stated the importance of the new bill. He said it would help smaller businesses effectively compete with big tech.
Criticisms of the Proposed Bill
Big tech expressed their dissatisfaction with the bill. They warned the intention of the new bill might be noble, but it would cause more harm than good.
The VP of public policy at Amazon said the bill would endanger Amazon’s capacity to operate a sellers’ marketplace. It would also significantly reduce the benefits of Amazon Prime.
Amazon warns AICOA would jeopardize its "ability to operate a marketplace for sellers"
— Matt Schruers (@MSchruers) October 15, 2021
Computer & Communications Industry Association President Matt Schruers also said the new bill would hinder innovation. He noted it wouldn’t spur competition; instead, it would constrain big companies.
In addition, some critics opposed the legislation by claiming it would make platforms and products more inconvenient for users. They say the legislation can also stop Google from showcasing Google Maps results on its platforms.
In addition, Apple customers might also have to take an extra step to download needed apps (like FaceTime) if Apple is barred from preloading its products with its apps.