House members on Friday introduced five antitrust bills — including one that would force Amazon.com Inc. and others to essentially split into two companies or shed their private-label products — in the most aggressive action yet by federal lawmakers to rein in the market influence of Big Tech.
Another bill, called “American Innovation and Choice Online Act,” targets the ability of companies, presumably Amazon
and Google parent Alphabet Inc.
to leverage their online platforms to favor their own products over competitors.
The so-called anti-monopoly agenda, dubbed “A Stronger Online Economy: Opportunity, Innovation, Choice,” also includes two bills that address make it more difficult for dominant platforms to gobble up competitive threats via mergers and acquisitions. A fifth bill promotes competition online by “lowering barriers to entry and switching costs for businesses and consumers through interoperability and data portability requirements.”
“Right now, unregulated tech monopolies have too much power over our economy,” Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., chairman of the House’s Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, said in a statement announcing the bipartisan legislation led by Democrats. “They are in a unique position to pick winners and losers, destroy small businesses, raise prices on consumers, and put folks out of work. Our agenda will level the playing field and ensure the wealthiest, most powerful tech monopolies play by the same rules as the rest of us.”
Congress has spent 15 months investigating the vast powers of tech’s biggest names, which also includes Facebook Inc.
The arrival of the bills coincide with another round of antitrust travails for two of tech’s biggest companies this week.
Read more: House Democrats set to reshape antitrust law with 5 new bills
Both Google and Amazon face investigations or fines from domestic and foreign regulators.
Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee announced Friday that executives from Amazon and Google are scheduled to testify next week, along with an exec from speaker maker Sonos Inc.
a critic of the two tech behemoths. Amazon Associate General Counsel Ryan McCrate and Google’s public policy specialist Wilson White are slated to testify, Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., chair of the panel, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, said in a statement.