Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., unveiled a sweeping antitrust reform bill on Thursday that could, theoretically, cause Apple or other Big Tech firms to be fined 15% of their annual revenue if found guilty of monopoly abuse.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., unveiled a sweeping antitrust reform bill on Thursday, setting a tough tone as she becomes chair of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust.
Klobuchar has been a frequent critic of what she and other lawmakers have viewed as lax enforcement of existing antitrust laws and has called for strong measures against some of the major tech firms.
While she has introduced several bills in the past seeking reforms to various aspects of antitrust law, her Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act is a comprehensive proposal calling for a major revamping of policing standards. If enacted, it would bring significantly more risk to companies like Facebook and Google, which are already facing federal lawsuits, and to any dominant firm seeking to acquire another company.
In the House, antitrust subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, D-R.I., has similarly called for extensive reforms throughout an investigation into Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. That investigation culminated last year in a nearly 450-page report on the companies’ alleged monopoly power and suggested reforms to restore competition to the digital market.
While Republicans on the House subcommittee didn’t fully agree with the Democrats’ far-reaching proposals, they saw mostly eye-to-eye on the issues in the market and the need for some reform… Klobuchar has blamed flawed court decisions for weakening the meaning of existing antitrust laws, an opinion shared by members of both parties…
It would also grant government regulators — namely, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission — new powers and resources to penalize companies acting anti-competitively. It would dole out $484.5 million to DOJ’s antitrust division and and $651 million to the FTC. Right now, the agencies are hobbled and limited in how much damage they can do when they find a business is abusing their power. But Klobuchar’s legislation would give them significant penalty power, allowing them to bring penalties amounting to up to 15% of the violator’s total U.S. revenues or 30% of their U.S. revenues in the affected markets.
Klobuchar’s legislation would update the Clayton Act to explicitly prohibit business practices that harm competitors and bar “monopsonies”: when there is a market dominated by a single buyer. Experts have argued that the tech industry is made up of a series of monopsonies, pointing to examples like Apple’s App Store or Google’s search advertising dominance, and antitrust advocates have been pushing for the law to clearly bar this practice…
But the legislation as it stands still has a lot of hurdles to surmount. Democrats hold a slim majority in the Senate and they still need Republican buy-in for large legislative efforts like antitrust reform, which they’re unlikely to get. And they’re certain to face a blitz of aggressive lobbying from every company that could be affected by the bill, including Big Ag and Big Pharma alongside Big Tech.
MacDailyNews Take: Again, Apple should not be lumped in with the likes of Alphabet/Google which actually does have a monopoly (which is legal, by the way) and is very likely abusing it (which is subject to any antitrust reform remedies).
The fact is that Apple has no monopoly in smartphones, or in any other market, so Apple is incapable of committing monopoly abuse.
• Android: 71.93%
• iOS: 27.47%
• Windows: 76.26%
• macOS: 16.91%
I don’t think anybody reasonable is going to come to the conclusion that Apple is a monopoly. Our share is much more modest. We don’t have a dominant position in any market… We are not a monopoly. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, June 2019
As for Google, the biggest offender in “Big Tech,” impose any remedies that restore competition to online search and online advertising.
If you haven’t already, give DuckDuckGo a try! https://duckduckgo.com
With this unprecedented power, platforms have the ability to redirect into their pockets the advertising dollars that once went to newspapers and magazines. No one company should have the power to pick and choose which content reaches consumers and which doesn’t. — MacDailyNews, November 9, 2017
We’d like to see real competition in the online search and advertising markets restored someday. — MacDailyNews, March 20, 2019
Attribution: 9to5Mac. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]