Legislation to Break Up Tech Monopolies Inching Closer

Legislation Tech Monopolies Featured

A frequent complaint in the tech world is that the big four are too big and too controlling in the industry. There is current U.S. legislation inching closer to break up these tech monopolies. Should Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google be worried? Should we be worried?

Tech Monopolies Legislation

If a bipartisan group of legislators gets their wish, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google will be broken up and will no longer be controlling the entire industry.

Five bills were introduced by a group of House representatives. They would make it difficult for any dominating company to buy out other companies. It would also prevent them from owning other businesses that could lead to a conflict of interest for them.

This proposed legislation still has a big road ahead before it would potentially destroy the tech monopolies. The bills first have to pass the House Judiciary Committee, then need to be passed by the entire House. Next, the bills will move on to the Senate, and finally, they will land on the president’s desk.

Legislation Tech Monopolies Google

Before these five bills were proposed, there was an investigation by a House Judiciary subcommittee. The legislators were looking into possible antitrust and monopolies. Particularly troubling for Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google is that the bipartisan group agreed that reform was needed to rectify this situation.

Two bills in particular ā€“ the American Choice and Innovation Online Act sponsored by the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust chair Rep. David Cicilline and Ending Platform Monopolies Act sponsored by Vice-Chair Pramila Jayapal ā€“ appear as though they could be most harmful to Amazon and Apple, as both head up online storefronts of some sort.

The other three bills are:

  • Platform Competition and Opportunity Act
  • Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service
  • Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act

Industry Reaction

Already these two bills are causing concern in the tech industry. Geoffrey Manne is president and founder of the International Center for Law & Economics, a group Google has backed financially in the past. Manne issued a statement that said, “Adopting the European regulatory model would make it harder for American tech companies to innovate and compete both here and globally.”

Legislation Tech Monopolies Amazon Apple

Also chiming in was CEO Adam Kovacevich of the Chamber of Progress. His advocacy group is backed by Amazon, Facebook, Google, and others. He published an article on Medium that said consumers would suffer if the two bills pass. He suggested that with some products, Amazon wouldn’t be able to offer free shipping to its Prime members, and Google wouldn’t be able to display the most popular search results for businesses similar to theirs. Apple wouldn’t be able to preinstall the Find My app on its devices, and Facebook users wouldn’t be allowed to post to Instagram easily.

Major players in the industry that compete with the big four are, of course, celebrating the proposed legislation.

Horacio Gutierrez, chief legal officer of Spotify, said the American Choice and Innovation Online Act is “an important step in addressing anticompetitive conduct in the App Store ecosystem and a clear sign that momentum has shifted, as the world is waking up to the need to demand fair competition in the app economy.”

Roku said in a statement that it “applauds Reps. David Cicilline and Ken Buck for taking a crucial step toward curbing the predatory and anticompetitive behaviors of some of the county’s most powerful companies.”

Legislation Tech Monopolies Facebook2

The company further said that it “has firsthand experience competing against and interacting with these monopolists, and we’ve seen how they flagrantly ignore antitrust laws and harm consumers by leveraging their dominance in one line of business to stifle competition in another. An aggressive set of reforms is needed to prevent a future where these monopolists further abuse consumer choice and hamper access to innovative and independent products.”

What Could this Mean for the Industry?

While the public may be tired of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google controlling so much of the tech space, do they want to lose out on current offerings as was suggested? Do we want to lose out on free two-day shopping on some products at Amazon? Do we want to get incomplete Google search results? Would the App Store be the same product if another company was running it?

This may end up being one of those be careful what you wish for type of things. Luckily, if the proposed legislation does come to fruition to stop the tech monopolies, it won’t go into effect for some time due to the number of hurdles the bills must pass through first, which will give everyone time to figure it all out.

Read on to learn more about Apple’s inclusion in the antitrust investigation because of its “Sign in with Apple” option.

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.

5 comments

  1. “Legislation to Break Up Tech Monopolies Inching Closer”
    It’s about time! Zuckerberg, Dorsey, Cook and others have become the modern Rockefeller, Carnegie, Gould and Morgan, et al. Monopolies were not good for the world in the late 19th, early 20th century and they are just as bad now. When Facebook and Twitter and other Big Tech firms can de-platform anybody they feel like, when they can determine what viewpoints will and will not be heard, when they define what the “truth” and “real news” are, it is time not only to pass laws to control them but to completely de-platform them.

    “Industry Reaction”
    Of course “the Industry” will insist that if any laws curbing their activities are passed, Americans will lose access to the Internet, Internet might collapse and the world as we know it will come crashing down. These are the same claims Rockefeller, Morgan and Carnegie made when their monopolies were busted. In today’s vernacular, we call it FUD.

    “While the public may be tired of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google controlling so much of the tech space, do they want to lose out on current offerings as was suggested?”
    Is Big Tech willing to cut off its nose to spite its face? If Big Tech were to cut back on their offerings, they would lose MONEY and that is the one thing that they do not want to do. Any noises about cutting or curtailing services is nothing more than saber-rattling on the part of Big Tech. When AT&T was about to be broken up, they were making all kinds of dire predictions about deterioration of services, elimination of services, even the end of telephone service in America. Ma Bell survived and so did the Baby Bells. They not only survived but they have prospered. After the divestiture, there were 7 Baby Bells. Then they started recombining. Now there are only 2 or 3. To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of possible Big Tech demise are greatly exaggerated.

    Facebook, Google, Apple, Twitter are supposed to provide services for us, not run our lives. They are no different than companies that provide us with gas, electricity, water and/or phone service.

  2. Of course two big lobbying firms with comically misleading names warn about “dangers” no one cares about or don’t like (Instagram/FB) but that’s their job.

    Amazon’s become the worst. I deleted my Amazon account for various reasons a year ago, don’t and won’t buy from them but purchases I make elsewhere are often delivered by Amazon. I mean, their stupid trucks coming and going all day long, each one making one stop on my street, another only minutes behind, drivers who barely speak English running from and back to their trucks.

    It would be interesting to know the break even point for a purchase from Amazon. I’d bet they lose money on anything near the free shipping amount and almost everything sold via. Prime. But, they’re an ad company, run massive server farms, subscription services, etc., etc.

    Beside their conspicuous consumption and exploitation, the site is so messed up, it barely works. Then there are Google links for things they can’t possibly sell such as “itn thwht z,” yup Amazon probably has a link for it going to “Oh looks we’re out of itn thwht z, buy a Prime membership instead!

    Yay! Bezos said they’d break Amazon. They have. Tech breakups can’t come soon enough.

    1. @TechYech:
      ” Iā€™d bet they lose money on anything near the free shipping amount ”
      Amazon and others may be losing money on free shipping but that loss is figured into their business plan. They see it as a good trade off. Whatever they lose on free delivery, they make up on increased sales. Many shoppers get mesmerized by the word “FREE” and will go with a higher priced item just because it has no delivery fee. And, of course, there is the “convenience” of shopping at Amazon. When it comes to electronics and computer-related items, I find that often other online retailers, such as Newegg, have lower prices than Amazon, even when delivery fees are included.

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