Bill Targeting Big Tech Gaining Support — Just Not From Big Tech

Supporters of a bill to “rein in” big tech say they have enough Senate votes to push through legislation prohibiting large platforms from favoring their own businesses. This practice is called “self-preferencing.”

Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) are the co-sponsors.

When the grandiose named “American Innovation and Choice Online Act” first cleared the House Judiciary Committee last year, the lobbying by tech giants began. After January’s clearance by the Senate Judiciary Committee, the heat went from simmer to boil.

Supporters are waiting for the measure to get a floor vote.

Amazon in particular is spearheading opposition, saying the bill targets exactly one retailer — themselves. The specification that those subject to its regulations must have a minimum market value of $550 billion excludes both Walmart and Target.

Amazon would have to stop giving preferred treatment to sellers who pay for greater placement. It could no longer require sellers utilizing Amazon Prime to also use the company’s delivery service. Also, companies on the platform must share certain data with rivals.

The bill goes after Facebook, Apple, and Google parent Alphabet, and along with Amazon they are fighting the measure. Google’s practice of having its own products appear at the top of a search would be prohibited.

The Chamber of Progress, a tech advocacy group, says that supporters like Yelp and Spotify have a natural reason to want the measure to pass.

It helps them. But the organization said in a statement that voters are not clamoring for changes “to Amazon basics and Google Maps.”

The tech resistance to the bill is organized by the Computer and Communications Industry Association. All four big tech companies are part of CCIA, which has spent over $10 million this year to warn that popular online features will disappear if the bill passes.

Industry executives are also lobbying Congress personally to thwart the legislation. Despite the announcement that enough legislators are on board, nothing yet is final.

But Democrats get to go after big business, and Republicans may target platforms deemed hostile to conservatives. That’s a powerful combination, even in these days of rare bipartisanship.