Tech antitrust bill seeks to regulate Big Tech, change the Internet

U.S. lawmakers are eyeing votes prior to the midterm elections in November on antitrust legislation (named by supporters “The American Innovation and Choice Act”) that would, if implemented, mark the first major effort by Congress to regulate big tech since the inception of the internet.

U.S. Capitol Building
The United States Capitol Building

Leah Nylen and Christopher Cannon to Bloomberg News:

The American Innovation and Choice Act, which has bipartisan support in the House and Senate, would lay down key ground rules for dominant firms including Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

The bill seeks to break the stranglehold the largest tech platforms have over their markets by prohibiting them from giving advantages to their own products and making it easier for rivals to communicate with customers and collect information about their users.

Sponsored in the Senate by Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, and Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and 10 others, the legislation has support from a wide-range of liberal Democrats and populist Republicans, as well as from smaller tech companies like Yelp Inc., Match Group Inc. and Spotify Technologies SA. A House companion from Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline, Colorado Republican Ken Buck and 43 others is also awaiting a floor vote.

No one knows yet which of the companies’ products will need to change under the sweeping tech antitrust bill. Under the terms of the measure, those decisions will be made by the Justice Department’s antitrust division and the US Federal Trade Commission, which also enforces antitrust laws.

MacDailyNews Note: Examples of prohibitions — if the bills ever come up for vote, much less become law — include:

• Amazon could no longer feature its own brand, Amazon Basics, at the top of a product search above other similar products.
• A Google search, for example, could no longer favor its own vertical like Google Flights.
• Microsoft couldn’t prioritize its own video games in the Xbox Marketplace.
• Meta currently allows one-click cross-posting between Facebook and Instagram. They would likely need to make it easier to cross-post to other social media sites like Twitter, Snap and TikTok.
• Apple and Google may no longer be able to pre-install their own apps on smartphones and other devices if those apps have competitors.

BTW: No one is forced to use an iPhone.

Apple does not have a monopoly position in smartphones. Therefore, Apple should not be subject to so-called antitrust laws.

Mobile Operating System Market Share Worldwide (StatCounter, June 2022):

• Android: 72.12%
• iOS: 27.22%

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  1. How will they apply this to retail stores? Cheaper in house brands can not be prominently displayed in front of name brand items? There are some big plot holes in this movie. Perhaps politicians should not be able to push their personal .. or lobbyist priorities as well.

  2. I don’t know about others, but I actually think the prohibitions in the MDN take are long overdue.

    This law is bigger than Apple, but most people on Apple blogs only see how it will affect them.

      1. Since there are real and artificial
        barriers to entry, each platform is a market unto itself.

        Technical barriers are real, forbidding alternate stores is artificial. There are many android device vendors, there is only on iOS device vendor.

        Monopoly, genius.

  3. One could argue that installing an OS is preferring your own brand. Imagine if there were 3rd party OS’es that you could just buy off the shelf and install on your Mac.

    1. johnlaurenson: I think you’re onto something here. The lobbyists would likely promise handsome rewards to those CongressCritters who vote against restrictions.

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