The House of Representatives passed sweeping antitrust legislation targeting Big Tech with bipartisan support following a Thursday afternoon vote.
The bill, known as the Merger Fee Filing Modernization Act, passed 242 to 184, combining a trio of antitrust bills designed to limit the impact of Big Tech firms by increasing merger application fees to fund stricter antitrust enforcement, requiring companies to disclose foreign subsidies when applying for a merger and exempting antitrust lawsuits brought by state attorneys general from processes that can result in court cases being transferred to districts more favorable to defenders. The package, passed with 39 Republican votes, was endorsed by the White House on Tuesday as part of its ongoing efforts to beef up antitrust enforcement.
Google has offered to break apart in a bid to avoid greater punishment for antitrust violations from federal regulators, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
The tech giant has raised the prospect of separating a major business operation off from Google—the auctioning and placing of online advertisements—to form a separate entity also under the umbrella of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, people close to Google reportedly told the WSJ. It was unclear if the offer would satisfy the Department of Justice (DOJ), which declined to comment on the story, according to the WSJ.
Top lawmakers in the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee met with Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen on Thursday, a person familiar with the matter confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, who chairs the subcommittee, and Republican Rep. Ken Buck, who serves as ranking member, held a meeting with Haugen to discuss Facebook and issues related to social media competition, Politico first reported, citing two sources. A person familiar with the matter confirmed the meeting to the DCNF, and said the lawmakers also discussed potential antitrust reforms, as well as matters related to privacy and social media algorithms.
Buck and Cicilline worked together to advance a series of antitrust bills targeting major tech companies out of the House Judiciary Committee in June, and have both advocated for breaking up Facebook and other large platforms. The antitrust bills are currently set to reach the House floor in November.
Facebook’s seemingly-unending stream of bad publicity continued this week, when it was fined nearly $70 million by the United Kingdom for what is being described as a deliberate lack of compliance into an anti-trust investigation.
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been investigating Facebook’s acquisition of Giphy for nearly a year, and ordered the company to produce information “required information related to an initial enforcement order (IEO) placed on it by the watchdog, despite repeated requests for it to do so,” according to TechCrunch.
Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters wants to break up Big Tech and ban their business practices he believes are harmful.
“I think Republicans need to reacquaint themselves with their history of antitrust enforcement, and realize huge concentrations of power in private hands can violate people’s liberties just as much as government,” Masters said in an interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Masters, who announced his candidacy in July, serves as chief operating officer at investment firm Thiel Capital and runs the Thiel Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded by billionaire investor and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. He competes in a crowded Republican primary with fellow candidate and current Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich for the chance to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in 2022.
President Joe Biden’s competition and antitrust executive order will harm American consumers, groups representing both large and small businesses said.
The leading groups — including the Chamber of Commerce, Job Creators Network (JCN) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) — slammed Biden’s executive order, arguing that it will harm competition and present a host of challenges to small businesses. The business groups said the order is an example of big government attempting to exert control over the free market via onerous rules and regulations.
“This executive order amounts to a bizarre declaration against American businesses, from the largest to the smallest,” Small Business and Entrepreneurship (SBE) Council Chief Economist Raymond Keating said in a statement. “It’s hard to understand why a White House would go down such a path, especially as the economy is digging out from the COVID-19 disaster.”
Tech giant Amazon recently demanded that the chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission be recused from any antitrust investigations into the company, according to the Daily Caller.
Amazon filed the petition with the FTC on Wednesday, accusing Chairwoman Lina Khan of being biased due to the fact that she “has, on numerous occasions, argued that Amazon is guilty of antitrust violations and should be broken up.” The petition continued by declaring that “these statements convey to any reasonable observer the clear impression that she has already made up her mind about many material facts relevant to Amazon’s antitrust culpability as well as about the ultimate issue of culpability itself.”
The FTC is already conducting several antitrust investigations, including against Amazon; their most recent efforts are focusing on Amazon’s possible acquisition of the film studio Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), a purchase of nearly $9 billion announced last month.
Apple CEO Tim Cook called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress last week, warning lawmakers that newly proposed antitrust legislation would harm consumers and hurt innovation, five sources with knowledge of the conversations told The New York Times.
Lawmakers introduced a series of antitrust bills that target Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon, The New York Times reports. The legislative efforts seek to rein in the tech companies by addressing alleged anti-competitive practices and by curbing monopoly power, according to a report by CNET.
Pelosi pushed back on Cook’s warnings, asking him to name specific policy objections, two sources with knowledge of the conversations told The New York Times.
There are few, if any, political issues that now generate the breadth and intensity of bipartisan backlash as does the rise of Big Tech.
During Donald Trump’s presidency, the major parties largely diverged on their specific grievances against the woke Silicon Valley monopolists who serve as gatekeepers for America’s 21st-century public square. Republicans, by and large, focused on censorship of conservative online speech. Democrats, by contrast, tended to focus on economic concentration; the five American corporations with the largest market caps, for example, are tech behemoths Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google Alphabet, and Facebook. This divergence has stymied efforts to rein in the Big Tech oligarchy on issues such as Section 230, the 1990s-era provision permitting platforms to engage in publisher-like content-moderation decisions without being legally treated as publishers.
Conservatives still have myriad concerns with Big Tech’s noxious brew of speech suppressions, shadow bans, and unaccountable deplatformings. Those concerns are both legitimate and justified by Big Tech’s ever-expanding list of misdeeds. But there is an emerging sea change in the way conservatives conceptualize the relationship between Big Tech’s unfettered content-moderation leeway and the sheer economic clout wielded by the relevant corporate actors.
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Wednesday that she is leading a coalition of dozens of states to file a lawsuit against social media giant Facebook.
James, along with the attorneys general of 47 other states and the Federal Trade Commission, accuse Facebook of using its dominant market position to acquire and otherwise crush competitors, tactics that amount to monopolistic abuse that harm users.
The Justice Department on Tuesday sued Google for antitrust violations, alleging that it abused its dominance in online search and advertising to stifle competition and harm consumers.
The lawsuit marks the government’s most significant attempt to protect competition since its groundbreaking case against Microsoft more than 20 years ago. It could be an opening salvo ahead of other major government antitrust actions, given ongoing investigations of major tech companies including Apple, Amazon and Facebook at both the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said he wants the public to weigh in on the question of whether internet search engines should be “allowed to favor their own products and services in search results.”
The attorneys general who are involved in an antitrust investigation targeting Google are weighing whether to press the accelerator on the probe or focus resources on the coronavirus response.
Google is doing everything it can to protect not only its employees, but also Americans, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry told the Daily Caller News Foundation. He is referring to what he said was the company’s work to help the Trump administration on the virus response.
Landry is one of the 33 attorneys general who is helping to spearhead the probe.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has officially joined seven other states and the District of Columbia in launching an investigation into Facebook for possible antitrust violations. New York Attorney General Letitia James will lead the bipartisan coalition of attorneys general, she announced in a Friday press release. “Even the…
Several state attorneys general are pursuing a joint antitrust probe of major technology companies, according to sources of The Wall Street Journal. It could begin as early as next month and Ohio’s Attorney General Dave Yost may be among them.