U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Votes to Curb Big Tech

Posted on January 20, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Amazon, Cloud, Google, Mobile, iOS, Android, Chrome OS, Mac and macOS, iPadOS with 16 Comments

Photo credit: Paul Thurrott

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 16-6 to advance the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which, if enacted as law, will significantly curb the power of companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Meta/Facebook.

“This bill is not meant to break up Big Tech or destroy the products and services they offer,” Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley said. “The goal of the bill is to prevent conduct that stifles competition.”

The law would legally prohibit dominant companies from favoring their own products and services and discriminating against other businesses that rely on their products and services. In this case, “dominant” would be defined by the size of their user base and/or market capitalization, neatly side-stepping any issues related to traditional monopoly definitions. In short, the bill targets Big Tech and the market power that these companies wield against competitors.

If passed, Apple and Google would no longer be able to promote their own offerings over those of rivals in their own app stores—or, in Google’s case, via its search service—by using artificial rankings as they do now. Similarly, Amazon could no longer promote its own products over those of third-party sellers when customers search its website for products.

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act is a bipartisan bill supported by both Democrats and Republicans. And it is perhaps notable that both California senators on the committee voted yes; Apple, Google, and Meta/Facebook are all headquartered in that state. Next, the bill moves to the full U.S. Senate, where it is likely to receive more scrutiny and amendments.

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Comments (16)

16 responses to “U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Votes to Curb Big Tech”

  1. lvthunder

    How can they possibly police that?

    • navarac

      Certainly not outside US jurisdiction.

      • Bart

        EU has the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act going through the EU Council. European Parliament has already voted yes.

    • rm

      They don't have to, since it is a law, the courts will. Should be some big law suites in the next few years!

    • Greg Green

      It’ll become a moneymaker for class action law firms. They’ll claim a violation, take it court, negotiations lead to out out of court settlements. Senators then pass the hat around again for more consumer protection laws.

    • behindmyscreen

      Just like they police Anti-Trust today. The DOJ can take action based on complaints to their office, State AG offices can do the same, affected companies can also bring civil cases use the law.

  2. j5

    Why don't they actually do something that matters like lowering taxes or cutting red tape for small business, this is stupid low hanging fruit that doesn't improve anyones lives, just gives politicians social media brownie points smh....pfft hey when I was alive our government made it so Google and Amazon couldn't push their own apps and products...lol lame

    • mike2thel73

      As long as there is a president from the democratic party and either the Senate or House of representatives is a democrat majority our taxes will never go down.

      • Stabitha.Christie

        President Obama signed into law a $858 billion tax cut bill.  

        • Greg Green

          That cut taxes for people with armies of accountants and lawyers, children and poor least affected.

          • behindmyscreen

            Are you a Russian bot? That doesn't even line up with the tax laws passed by different parties over the last 20 years.

          • Stabitha.Christie

            Lowering payroll taxes by 2%, reducing income tax across all tax brackets and increasing the college credit don't require either a lawyer or and accountant to take advantage. The first two are automatic and require no work. The third required you to fill out your 1080 for correctly, Turbo Tax or something similar would have managed it just fine.

      • behindmyscreen

        LOL. what a dumb statement.

  3. red.radar

    It should be celebrated in this polarizing time that something significant is advancing with significant bi-partisan support.

  4. Pbike908

    Closing the barn door after the horses left. Funny how the D Congressional delegation and governor's overwhelming supported these guys for years...