New legislation aims at Apple, Google, and Facebook as U.S. attempts to catch up to Europe

New legislation seeks to establish new U.S. law on Section 230 protections and platforms’ habit of preferring their own services, the types of moves that the EU has been making for years.

U.S. Capitol Building
The United States Capitol Building

Jon Swartz for MarketWatch:

On Thursday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced plans to introduce a bipartisan bill that would prevent dominant online platforms owned by Big Tech companies such as Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc.’s Google from favoring their products at the expense of third-party vendors. In the House of Representatives, a group of Democrats announced plans to introduce a bill to remove some Section 230 liability protections for tech platforms on the heels of last week’s Facebook Inc. whistleblower hearings. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act generally provides internet platforms legal immunity from posting of third-party content.

The newest legislation is part of an ambitious push to rein in the growing power of tech’s largest companies in the U.S., which has largely failed to pass laws in recent years, while Europe has moved forward. The comparison is jarring: While the European Union blazes a regulatory trail in fines and charges against Big Tech, U.S. lawmakers are holding hearings and wagging fingers at tech execs.

“Congress has been sort of asleep while the EU has been moving forward,” Ariel Fox Johnson, senior counsel of global policy at Common Sense, told MarketWatch.

Absent substantive regulatory laws, the U.S. and dozens of states have filed multiple antitrust charges against Google and Facebook, but none has moved to a trial yet and are likely years away from resolution… Four search engine rivals of Google, including DuckDuckGo, last week urged EU lawmakers to take action against the Alphabet unit, claiming they have yet to see sufficient enforcement from a 3-year-old antitrust ruling against Google.

MacDailyNews Take: Again, Google is a massive problem that simply must be addressed. There is one “Big Tech” company that is really stifling competition and for which antitrust remedies are in order: Alphabet (Google).

When one search engine has 86% share of the worldwide market (and Google basically isn’t even used in China), there is far, far, far too much power concentrated in one company. The whole concept of the World Wide Web is destroyed when a sole gatekeeper basically controls what gets seen, read, and heard. It’s not open, it’s completely closed and controlled.

Publishers who want to be read, for example, spend an inordinate amount of time making sure they follow Google’s dictates, nebulously sussed from Google’s secret algorithm, formatting their sites, even writing their articles a certain way, including certain words they might not choose if allowed to write freely, simply to please Google’s algorithm.

If Google doesn’t like a site (imagine a site that believes Google’s Android is a stolen product and says so repeatedly), Google can hurt that site by, say, excluding that site from the News tab on Google (since 2009), so that the site is more difficult to find, hurting that site’s traffic and ability to generate revenue. (Is there a lawsuit there? Someday we might find out.)

Hopefully, lawmakers can come together to figure out a way to do something to remedy the horribly uncompetitive situation in internet search. Google is, and has been for years, a perfect example of why antitrust laws exist. — MacDailyNews, July 29, 2020

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

Imagine if your livelihood depended on one company that had not only monopolized web search (and, thereby, basically controlled how new customers find you), but also controlled the bulk of online advertising dollars which funded your business and which they could pull, simply threaten to pull, or reduce rates at any time? Now also imagine if you believe this monopolist basically stole the product of another company that is the very subject of your business? How much would you criticize the monopolist thief’s business practices?

You might guess that it would be a tough road to walk. (We’re only imagining, of course!)

That would be a good example of why monopolies are bad for everyone.

The U.S. government has utterly failed to police Google. Because the people with the power to do so currently are corrupt. Follow the money. Hopefully, the European Union will help to correct the situation.

In the meantime, stop using Google search and Google products wherever possible. Monopolies are bad for everyone.MacDailyNews, July 14, 2016

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  1. Long overdue Section 230 must be overhauled, but I prefer repeal it as no other companies in business have the same legal protections. IMMUNE from lawsuits, gives them the right to PIMP their favorite products for profit, DISCRIMINATE INDESCIMATELY against rivals and CENSOR and MUZZLE other political views that offend the woke Leftist valley monopolies not allowing all sides to heard on the important issues…

    1. It seems to me that removing some protections that “provides internet platforms legal immunity from posting of third-party content” would lead to increased platform censorship. Now companies would have to increase their patrol and removal of content that could lead to lawsuits and anything deemed “offensive” by whichever political faction might be in power.

      1. Yes, correct.

        Censor the Taliban; “death to Israel” posts out of Iran; BLM and Antifa hate organizing so called protests to loot and burn cities, Russian and China disinformation; et al.

        Right now they are censoring President Trump for mostly telling the truth although he has a tendency to exaggerate which is OUTRAGEOUS to DISRESPECT a former president should not stand. In addition, targeting all conservative free speech as woke Democrat Big Tech is suppressing most information from the RIGHT helping Democrats win elections.

        “Now companies would have to increase their patrol and removal of content that could lead to lawsuits”

        Yes, same as ALL responsible newspapers including National Inquirer gossip tabloid, TV news outlets, magazines, book publishers, corporate business websites, more — every minute of everyday.

        Big Tech has more money than God and could easily accomplish without breaking a sweat. If they can setup and run algorithms to catch conservative speech or anyone impugning the Democrats, certainly they can expand for the rest.

        It’s high time for a reckoning to REMOVE carved out protections and exemptions for the pampered woke valley Leftists forcing them to play by the SAME rules that apply to ALL businesses.

        Bring it ON!…

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