WASHINGTON: A bipartisan group of lawmakers, headed by Senators Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, and Republican Chuck Grassley, plan to introduce a bill that would bar Big Tech platforms, like Amazon and Alphabet's Google, from favouring their products and services.
Amazon, for example, has been accused of using data from third-party sellers to determine what products it would create.
Reuters reported on Wednesday, after reviewing thousands of internal Amazon documents, that the US company's India operations ran a systematic campaign of creating knockoffs and manipulating search results to boost its own private brands in the country, one of the company’s largest growth markets.
The latest bill is one of a slew introduced in this Congress aimed at reining in tech firms, including industry leaders Facebook and Apple. Thus far none have become law although one, a broader measure to increase resources for antitrust enforcers, has passed the Senate.
This bill, which Klobuchar's office said would be introduced early next week, would be a companion to a measure which has passed the House Judiciary Committee. It must pass both houses of Congress to become law.
Klobuchar and Grassley's Bill would specifically prohibit platforms from requiring companies operating on their sites to purchase the platform's goods or services and ban them from biasing search results to favor the platform.
"As dominant digital platforms - some of the biggest companies our world has ever seen - increasingly give preference to their own products and services, we must put policies in place to ensure small businesses and entrepreneurs still have the opportunity to succeed in the digital marketplace," Klobuchar said in a statement.
Klobuchar is chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee while Grassley is the top Republican on the full committee. Co-sponsors include Democrats like Senator Dick Durbin, chair of the full Judiciary Committee, Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Mazie Hirono and Mark Warner as well as Republicans Lindsey Graham, John Kennedy, Cynthia Lummis and Josh Hawley.
Antitrust advocate Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project, praised the planned bill as an effort "to turn the page on a failed era of antitrust enforcement."