Gov't Proposes Curbing the Reach of Big Tech

John Lister's picture

The House of Representatives will examine five different proposals for curbing the power of big tech companies. The bills take very different approaches to the task, though it's unclear if any but the least dramatic has a shot at becoming law.

There could be a couple of reasons why lawmakers have thrown out so many ideas. One is simply a numbers game with the hope that more attempts means more chance of something becoming law. Another is to present some more drastic measures that get rejected in the hope that the "weaker" bills then look more reasonable and balanced.

The five bills, as covered by ArsTechnica's Tim DeChant, are as follows (Source:

The American Choice and Innovation Online Act targets "interoperability." In simple terms it would try to stop tech companies which have a platform (such as an operating system) from favoring their own services at the expense of rivals. This could affect which apps are allowed in stores and whether users are able to change default apps on devices.

Take Your Data And Leave

The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (Access) Act would focus on data and the ways users can and can't move it between services. For example, it would make it easier to take data such as uploaded photos from one social network to another.

The Ending Platform Monopolies Act would have arguably the most dramatic effect. It says any tech platform worth at least $600 billion and with more than 50 million active users in the US would not be able to run a business that could benefit their own products or hurt those of competitors. That could theoretically mean Apple couldn't run an app store and Google couldn't run an ad sales service, or at least that they'd have to be spun off into completely separate businesses. (Source:

Burden Of Proof

The Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act is perhaps the bluntest but least impactful proposal. It would increase the money companies have to pay in regulatory fees for mergers, with the extras cash going to regulators who oversee potential antitrust violations.

Finally, the Platform Competition and Opportunity Act would affect businesses with either 50 million active users, 100 million active third-party sellers, profits of $600 billion a year, or a market valuation of $600 billion. If such a business wanted to carry out a merger or takeover, the burden would be on it to prove the move wouldn't harm competition. That's in contrast to the current principle where the burden is on regulators to prove it would.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you support any of these proposals? Do you expect any of them to succeed? What (if anything) do you think are the biggest problems with the way big tech companies operate and can they be fixed by new laws?

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Gurugabe's picture

The US government has been creating laws for decades now that only have a short term effect. They cause them to split off certain parts of their company into a separate and independent business only for them to merge again later. There are certain instances where I am glad companies have strict restrictions for their product, like Apple only allowing apps from their store, to help ensure the integrity of all apps and limit the issues they cause to their product as whole. Do you really want your iPhone to run as bad as your Windows computer because you installed a pirated app? Google at least various stores your can download and install from that are fairly protective, Google Play, Amazon app store, Samsung app store, and others. Microsoft bundling Internet Explorer in Windows is a great thing, it allows you to go online, download and install a different browser. If Microsoft did not bundle it, how would you get a different browser? If you walk into an Oakley store to get a new pair of sunglasses, would you expect or even want them to sell a different brand in there? I guarantee many lawsuits would follow from someone walking into an Oakley store, buying a pair of sunglasses and then finding out after they get home that they are some other knock-off brand. Or even worse, their knock-off sunglasses break, they try to get Oakley to fix them under warranty to which they would reject because those are not their product. Would you expect Ferrari to sell a Prius?

The government keeps doing stupid things just so they can say they did something. One of these days we the people will make the government accountable for every action (or inaction) they do!