Effort to Bar Tech Companies From ‘Self-Preferencing’ Gains Traction

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Bipartisan legislation to be introduced in the Senate on Thursday aims to prevent tech companies from favoring their products

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In particular, the bill would prohibit a number of practices that are harmful to businesses and consumers, such as requiring a business to purchase a major platform’s goods or services in exchange for preferred placement; misusing a business’s data to compete against it; Search results biased in favor of the dominant firm; and unfairly preventing another business’s product from inter-operating with the major platform.

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The House Judiciary Committee passed a similar bill earlier this year, though the Senate bill would be somewhat tougher in some cases.

The Senate bill is being sponsored by censor Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), chair of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee and the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

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In an interview, Ms Klobuchar said the effort to rein in the tech giant has been fueled by a recent Facebook revelation. Inc.

Whistleblower, as revealed by Businesshala’s “Facebook Files” series.

“It’s a catalyst for action,” she said. “We’ve been able to deny people the notion that they should keep subscribing to the technical mantra of ‘trust us, just trust us’.”

The law also has support from the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Richard Durbin (d., Ill.) and former South Carolina GOP president, Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Industry protests are likely to be significant.

The bill could affect a number of major tech firms, including searches provided to users by Amazon.com and Alphabet Inc. NS

Google, both of which provide a range of products and services that compete with other businesses.

Companies and their supporters generally argue that they operate in highly competitive and dynamic markets and do not unfairly use their market power to stifle competition.

They have also argued against far-reaching antitrust bills in the House, saying they can grow their businesses in ways that consumers will not like. The sweeping changes could also undermine America’s technological leadership in the world, he argues.

For example, Apple has previously said that the House version may allow users to download apps to their iPhones without using their App Store. The company said it would harm customers by jeopardizing their privacy and parental controls and potentially exposing user data to ransomware attacks.

The House version was approved by a committee in June as part of a package of far-reaching antitrust bills that had the potential to reshape the online landscape. But since then the consideration of the house floor has been delayed, amid intense lobbying by the industry.

John D. McKinnon at [email protected]


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