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The House Committee approves a full crackdown on the technology during the overnight showdown



UPDATED: The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted early Thursday to prevent the biggest tech companies from buying their competitors – part of a series of bipartisan actions by the panel that stretch well past midnight aimed at undermining the ruling power of Silicon Valley .

In the early hours of Thursday, there is still a vote on the committee’s toughest proposal: a law that could make it easier to smash tech giants like Google and Facebook.

Taken together, these and other bills voted on Wednesday and Thursday would represent the most significant changes to US antitrust law in decades.

However, the response across the Capitol to the panel’s technology antitrust legislation indicated that despite years of growing anger at the industry, efforts by lawmakers from both parties could face serious obstacles among both Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

Read POLITICO’s full coverage here to learn more about the committee’s marathon cartel votes and the fierce pushback.

ORIGINAL STORY: The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee passed a law late Wednesday making it easier for consumers to move their personal information from one digital service to another.

The committee then moved on to one of its broadest proposals: a bill, HR 3826 (117), that would prohibit the largest tech companies from stifling competition by acquiring their potential competitors. Another bill, HR 3825 (117), would allow the Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission to liquidate the largest technology companies that offer their goods and services on platforms they operate.

The panel’s marathon markup showed no sign of flagging as the clock ticked past midnight Eastern Time.

The balance: The panel dismissed the Data Act, HR 3849 (117), with a bipartisan 25-19 vote after 11 p.m. ET, with three California Democrats breaking out of the ranks and opposition – Reps Lou Correa, Zoe Lofgren and Eric Swalwell. Three Republicans supported the law.

The debate on the measure, which began before 4 p.m., dragged on into the night as critics of the bill on both sides of the aisle tabled a large number of amendments to narrow the proposal, most of which were unsuccessful.

The text: The data legislation sponsored by Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.) Would require large platforms to create interfaces that allow users to transfer their data between online services – a move that could help other businesses with Facebook, too compete. A bipartisan group of senators introduced an accompanying law in the last Congress on p. 2658 (116).

“Too often, the segments of the digital economy that are dominated by the largest platforms are sealed off from competition,” said Chairman Jerry Nadler (DN.Y.) during the markup. “These markets often have high barriers to entry, switching costs,” and other characteristics that drive consumers and businesses to use a company in this industry. “

The politicians: The push to promote what is known as data interoperability has received support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and technology leaders. But before the serve, tech companies like Apple expressed concern about the specific bill that narrowly targets dominant platforms.

Löffgren said she had “significant concerns” that the legislation could create security vulnerabilities that reveal user data.

“Unfortunately, given the speed of this process and the legal and technical complexity of these challenges, we have not been able to resolve this issue before today,” she said, adding that she hopes to work with Scanlon and others to address these issues .

The move also overcame objections from Republicans, including senior councilor, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who argued that it would give the Federal Trade Commission regulators too much leeway to regulate the transfer of data between services.

The changes: The bill was taken forward with an amendment by Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) Aimed at addressing Jordan’s concerns. It would create a reporting requirement for the technical committee that advises the FTC on interoperability rules.

By voting, the committee also passed an amendment to change the definition of the companies covered by the draft law from “mobile online platforms” to simply “online platforms”. This could extend the reach and potentially make it easier to apply the terms to Microsoft.

Proponents of the proposal narrowly avoided a potentially harmful catch by rejecting an attempt to dramatically increase the number of companies covered by the law. Lofgren proposed a change that lowered the market cap threshold for the companies it covered from $ 600 billion to $ 250 billion, but the change was defeated in an 18-25 vote that saw numerous lawmakers cross the party lines.

Other action: The committee had previously voted Wednesday to increase merger filing fees, HR 3843 (117), and allow attorneys-general to choose where antitrust cases will be heard, HR 3460 (117).

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