In a draft response seen by Reuters, the U.S. House of Representatives antitrust report on Big Tech firms contains a “thinly veiled call to break up” the companies, Republican Congressman Ken Buck said.
The House antitrust subcommittee is expected to publish its report this week on Amazon.com Inc, Apple Inc, Facebook Inc and Google owner Alphabet Inc.
In the draft, Buck said he shared Democratic concerns about the power of Big Tech firms, with their penchant for “killer acquisitions” to eliminate rivals and self-preferencing in guiding customers to their other products.
However, he objected to a plan to require them to delineate a clear “single line of business”. Social media platform Facebook also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, search engine provider Google’s businesses include YouTube and Android, and e-commerce leader Amazon operates a massive cloud computing unit.
“This proposal is a thinly veiled call to break up Big Tech firms. We do not agree with the majority’s approach,” Buck wrote… “The report offers a chilling look into how Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook have used their power to control how we see and understand the world.”
According to the memo, the final report will offer “a menu of potential changes” to existing law aimed at addressing bipartisan concerns that the tech giants have unfairly squelched or scooped up competitors to detriment of their users. The recommendations will include a ban on certain types of mergers, such as on “future acquisitions of potential rivals and start-ups” by major platforms. But Republicans are unlikely to back Democrats’ more aggressive reforms, according to the memo.
Buck said he opposes not-yet-unveiled Democratic proposals aimed at “eliminating arbitration clauses and further opening companies up to class action lawsuits.” And he said he rejects antitrust subcommittee Chair David Cicilline’s (D-R.I.) idea of advancing legislation to force structural breakups of major online platforms like Amazon.
“We agree that antitrust enforcement agencies need additional resources and tools to provide proper oversight,” Buck wrote. “However, these potential changes need not be dramatic to be effective.”
In Buck’s memo, he said the incoming House antitrust report “does not address how Big Tech has used its monopolitic position in the marketplace to censor speech.”
MacDailyNews Take: As usual on Capital Hill, much ado, but nothing much happens.