Friday saw the introduction of five bipartisan bills to address the abusive, anticompetitive behavior of Google, Amazon and other Big Tech firms. It’ll be a long slog to passage of actual laws, but it’s a key step toward fairness, freedom and a stronger US economy.
The most important is the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, sponsored by Reps. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Lance Gooden (R-Texas) as well as Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and Jerry Nadler (D-NY). (Yes, The Post agrees with Jerry Nadler on something!)
The bill aims to stop tech giants from using their power to keep smaller firms from setting their own prices for online goods and services, and to prevent platforms from giving their own products an advantage over similar ones offered by others. It would also rein in abuse by the likes of the Apple and Android app stores, including their exorbitant commissions on third-party products.
It also seeks to block the likes of Google and Amazon from using data on other firms’ business transactions to gain a competitive edge — e.g., Google mining your service’s search data to benefit its similar service.
Another bill, piloted by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), would ban big players from simply buying up potential competitors. Others would 1) target the “vertical integration” whereby, notably, Amazon both offers a supposedly “open” platform for services and offers its own services; 2) guarantee portability of data between platforms (much like keeping your phone number when you switch providers); and 3) finance more overall enforcement via larger fees on megamergers over $1 billion.
Some Republicans, caught up in worries about the evils of antitrust action, will resist — while some Democrats will balk at a bipartisan approach that aims only to increase competition, rather than seek to micro-manage the entire industry.
But the center in both parties needs to focus on the principles at stake. Big Tech has been getting away with murder: It can control what you see and read, what you can buy, crush smaller companies and raise prices for consumers without fear of competition. The playing field might at last begin to be leveled.