Amazon, Other Tech Giants Could Be Forced to Shed Assets Under House Bill -- 2nd Update
By Dana Mattioli and Ryan Tracy
House lawmakers proposed a raft of bipartisan legislation aimed
at reining in the power of Big Tech, including a bill that aims to
make Amazon.com Inc. and other large companies effectively split
into two companies or shed their private-label products.
The House bills, announced Friday, amount to the biggest
Congressional broadside yet on a handful of technology companies --
including Alphabet Inc.'s Google, Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. as
well as Amazon -- whose enormous size and power have drawn growing
scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators in the U.S. and Europe.
If the bills become law -- a prospect that still faces
significant hurdles -- they could substantially alter the most
richly valued companies in America and reshape an industry that has
extended its impact into nearly every facet of work and life.
One of the proposed measures, titled the Ending Platform
Monopolies Act, seeks to require structural separation of Amazon
and other big technology companies to break up their businesses. It
would make it unlawful for a covered online platform to own a
business that "utilizes the covered platform for the sale or
provision of products or services" or that sells services as a
condition for access to the platform. The platform company also
couldn't own businesses that create conflicts of interest, such as
by creating the "incentive and ability" for the platform to
advantage its own products over competitors.
A separate bill takes a different approach to target platforms'
self-preferencing. It would bar them from conduct that "advantages
the covered platform operator's own products, services, or lines of
business over those of another business user," or that excludes or
disadvantages other businesses.
The proposed legislation would need to be passed by the
Democratic-controlled House as well as the Senate, where it would
likely also need substantial Republican support. While Republicans
are concerned about technology companies' power, many are skeptical
about changing antitrust laws.
Each of the bills has both Republicans and Democrats signed onto
it, with more expected to join in the coming days, congressional
aides said. A total of seven Republicans are backing the bills,
with a different group of three signing on to each measure,
according to a person familiar with the situation.
"Unregulated tech monopolies have too much power over our
economy," said Rep. David Cicilline (D., R.I.), the top Democrat on
the House Antitrust Subcommittee. "They are in a unique position to
pick winners and losers, destroy small businesses, raise prices on
consumers, and put folks out of work. Our agenda will level the
Rep. Ken Buck (R., Col.), the top Republican on the panel, said
he supports the legislation because it "breaks up Big Tech's
monopoly power to control what Americans see and say online, and
fosters an online market that encourages innovation."
The four companies didn't immediately comment on the proposed
legislation. All four companies have defended their competitive
practices and said that they operate their products and services to
The proposed bills are among five bills announced Friday that
aim to curb the dominance of technology giants.
A third bill would force online platforms to make their services
interoperable with those of competitors, a provision that could
force different social networks to allow their users to communicate
or allow e-commerce sellers to export their customer reviews from
one site to another, according to a summary provided by
A fourth bill targets mergers, making it unlawful for a large
online platform to acquire competitors or potential competitors.
The bill would have prevented only "a small percentage of all
technology sector deals" over the past decade, the summary
Lawmakers also introduced a bill to raise filing fees for
mergers valued more than $1 billion and lower them for transactions
under $500,000. It would generate an estimated $135 million for
antitrust enforcement agencies in its first year, the summary said.
Similar legislation recently passed the Senate.
Write to Dana Mattioli at email@example.com and Ryan Tracy
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 11, 2021 14:47 ET (18:47 GMT)
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