Big tech firms such as Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook wield a lot of power and influence over commerce and politics in the U.S. As these firms have continued to grow, their influence has done nothing but increase.
At the same time. The enforcement of antitrust laws in the U.S. has become a bit lax in the opinion of many experts. It is against this backdrop that Congress is proposing wide sweeping legislation to limit the power and influence of the biggest tech companies.
What Inspired These Bills and Who Are They Targeting?
These bills have been inspired by the desire of many in Congress to step up the government’s antitrust enforcement against the biggest of the big companies. There is a feeling by many in Congress that big tech companies have gained too much power and influence over the business and political scene in the U.S.
President Biden may have surprised some by naming Lina Khan as the chair of the FTC. Ms. Khan is considered to be a progressive critic of big tech companies. She is widely seen as someone who will work to try to limit the power of big tech companies.
Overview of the 5 Bills and How They Can Affect Big Tech
These five bills would provide the DOJ and the FTC with the ability to designate a tech company as a covered platform as discussed below. Together these bills would restrict the anti-competitive practices of the largest tech firms such as Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook.
Ending Platform Monopolies Act
This proposed legislation is aimed at big tech companies. Covered platforms could be forced to split their businesses in two or more separate entities and/or do away with some of their private label products. Some question whether this legislation is about consumer protection or about punishing big tech companies at the expense of other companies in the industry.
American Choice and Innovation Online Act
This bill would prohibit big tech platforms from engaging in conduct that places their own products at an advantage or those of another platform at a competitive disadvantage. It also prohibits any sort of discrimination against similarly situated business users.
Platform Competition and Opportunity Act
This legislation would prohibit acquisitions by covered technology platforms unless the platform can demonstrate that the acquisition does not compete with the covered platform, it doesn’t represent potential competition, the acquisition won’t enhance the covered platform’s market share or allow it to maintain its market position.
Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act
This legislation would require covered platforms to maintain interfaces that would facilitate the portability of user data should the user decide to utilize a competing platform.
Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act
This bill would create a tiered fee structure for companies filing pre-merger notifications. The fees would better reflect the size of the proposed transactions. Firms engaged in smaller mergers would pay less while the fees for larger mergers would be much higher.
Big tech firms and their lobbyists are fighting back. Google and Apple have made arguments to lawmakers that these bills should at least be delayed. Some have speculated that Microsoft has lobbied to be excluded from these bills, though a congressional leader has denied that any firm has been exempted.
Though these bills have been approved by a House subcommittee, they still need full Congressional and Senate approval. There is some vocal Republican opposition due to objections to increased regulation.
If these bills do pass as is or in some modified format, it could have implications on the share price of a number of big tech stocks and firms that support their efforts. Stay tuned as there is more to come here.
Looking to build a financial plan based on your goals while considering market trends and risk factors? Click here to check out our approach to Wealth Management.
These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable — we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information presented is not intended to constitute an investment recommendation for, or advice to, any specific person. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.