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Democrats’ draft antitrust law could reshape Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook



US House Impeachment Manager David Cicilline (D-RI) speaks on the second day of former President Donald Trump’s second indictment at the US Capitol on February 10, 2021 in Washington, DC.

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A group of House Democrats is circulating discussion drafts of antitrust bills that will force major technology companies to change parts of their business models and limit large acquisitions, according to copies obtained by CNBC.

While the drafts could still change significantly before their introduction, as it is currently written, they could require revision of business models for Apple and Amazon by limiting their ability to operate marketplaces for products and apps while selling their own goods and apps. in the same stores.

The bills would also make it harder for these companies plus Facebook and Alphabet (Google̵

7;s parent company) to implement major mergers and would force them to make it easier for users to leave their platforms with their data intact. CNBC could not immediately learn when the drafts were introduced.

The draft bill comes after a 16-month investigation by the subcommittee of the House of Justice for a monopoly on the four companies, which culminated in a nearly 450-page report from Democratic staff last fall. While Republicans in the subcommittee deviated from some of the Democrats’ more extreme proposals, several agreed on the key findings of monopoly power and anti-competitive behavior in the Democratic report and on the need to empty Big Tech’s power of antitrust reform.

The drafts do not indicate whether any Republicans support the bills.

What the draft bill says

Specifically, the five discussion drafts would prevent platforms from owning companies that pose a conflict of interest, prevent large platforms from favoring their own products instead of competitors trusting their sites, make it harder for large platforms to implement mergers, raise filing fees to acquisitions and mandates for users to transfer their data between platforms.

One of the bills, sponsored by Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Col. bill. This bill raises the fees that companies pay to notify the Federal Trade Commission and the Division of Justice Antitrust Division of major mergers with the goal of raising money for these agencies.

The other four drafts obtained by CNBC include:

  • Ending Platform Monopolies Act: Sponsored by rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Vice-Chair of the subcommittee, said this bill would make it illegal for a platform with at least 500,000 monthly active U.S. users and a market value of over $ 600 billion. $ Owning or running a business that presents a clear conflict of interest. The draft defines an illegal conflict as one that encourages a company to favor its own services over competitors or unfavorable potential competitors using the platform. Lawmakers have previously expressed concern that both Amazon and Apple, which operate their own platforms for vendors and developers, respectively, could undermine competition due to a conflict of interest in their own competing products or apps.
  • Platform Competition and Sales Opportunity Act: This proposal from rep. Hakeem Jeffries, DN.Y., would shift the burden of proof in merger cases to dominant platforms (defined by the same criteria as the previous bill) to prove that their acquisitions are actually legal rather than the government having to prove they want to reduce competition. The measure is likely to significantly delay acquisitions of dominant technology companies.
  • Platform anti-monopoly law: This bill, proposed by subcommittee chairman David Cicilline, DR.I., would prohibit dominant platforms from giving their own products and services advantages over competitors on the platform. It would also prohibit other forms of discriminatory behavior from dominant platforms, such as cutting off a competitor using the platform from services offered by the platform itself, and prohibiting dominant platforms from using data collected on their services that are not public to others. to burn their own competing products, among several other bans.
  • Increasing compatibility and competition by activating the Service Switching (ACCESS) Act: This proposed bill from rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., Would mandate dominant platforms to maintain certain standards for data portability and interoperability, making it easier for consumers to take their data with them to other platforms.

Representatives of these legislators did not respond or comment on the draft discussions.

Axios first reported on the drafts.

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