Republicans should wait to regulate Big Tech

The Hill

A coalition of lawmakers and advocacy groups is making its final push to pass antitrust legislation targeted at large tech platforms before the end of the year. But in the rush to rein in Big Tech, many conservatives have signed on to a bill that would do little to address their underlying concerns. Rather than helping Democrats pass flawed legislation, Republicans in Congress should hold off until next year when they are likely to be positioned to advance their own proposals.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), as part of a bipartisan coalition of legislators, recently held a press conference to urge Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to bring the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA) to the floor. AICOA, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support in January, is designed to prohibit Big Tech firms from engaging in a range of activities that preference their own products and services over those of third parties. Klobuchar released a revised version of the bill in May that aims to address lingering concerns about the scope and ambiguity of the legislation.

“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 argued. To do this, the bill grants the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Department of Justice (DOJ), and state attorneys general new authority to levy heavy fines on covered platforms that preference their own products and services.

Ultimately, the bill empowers the FTC and DOJ to interpret AICOA, and these agencies will have every incentive to push for the broadest possible reading. Given that penalties are as high as 10 percent of total US revenues, companies will also take an extremely cautious approach to navigating the law’s ambiguity—erring on the side of shutting down services many consumers rely on.

Click here to read the full piece in The Hill.

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