By: Tom Hebert
Congressman David Cicilline (D-R.I.) is releasing a package of antitrust bills with several Democrat sponsors that would fundamentally rewrite antitrust law to the detriment of American shoppers.
Cicilline is attempting to use conservative anger at Big Tech to persuade Republican lawmakers into giving the Biden Administration nearly unchecked power to regulate the entire economy. Many of these bills import European competition policy that has no precedent in American law.
Make no mistake about it – these bills do nothing to address conservative concerns with Big Tech censorship. These bills are hardly antitrust bills. Taken together, these bills are a test run for unelected Democrats to regulate entire sectors of the American economy.
Republicans should reject all of the below legislation:
Platform Competition & Opportunity Act
The Platform Competition & Opportunity Act prohibits a handful of “covered” tech companies from acquiring software businesses. This bill will hamstring innovative businesses from making acquisitions that enable them to better compete with rival firms, improving choice and access to goods and services for all Americans in the process.
If implemented, this bill would erode our competitiveness on the global stage at a time when Congress just passed a $250 billion piece of legislation that is supposed to boost our competitiveness with China. It would also close off a critical pathway to success for small startups, half of which say their most realistic long-term goal is to be acquired by a larger firm.
Platform Anti-Monopoly Act
The Platform Anti-Monopoly Act would force platform companies to share sensitive personal user information with third parties, including app developers and foreign software. At the same time, the bill prohibits platforms from removing third-party sellers from their marketplaces.
This would force platforms to host malicious apps and then share personal information of American consumers with the developers.
Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act
The Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act would substantially increase the resources of the Biden FTC controlled by left-wing activists like Acting Chair Rebecca Slaughter and potential Commissioner Lina Khan.
This bill will expand the budget of the FTC at a time when the agency seems likely to use rulemaking authority to effectively create new substantive antitrust law, circumventing the legislative process and potentially implementing policy that Congress itself is unwilling to pass. The legislation will give money to unelected bureaucrats who intend to use the additional resources not just how they see fit, but to circumvent Congressional gridlock and input on antitrust law.
Ending Platform Monopolies Act
The Ending Platform Monopolies Act enacts a line-of-business restriction for platform companies that would prohibit them from selling private label goods. This bill would drastically limit access to private label goods for American shoppers, often offered at a lower price than brand name products.
So-called “self-preferencing,” where businesses promote their own private label products next to brand name products, is not endemic to platform companies. Brick-and-mortar stores often promote their own generic goods on shelves next to brand-name goods, or with promotional devices like end-caps and window displays.
Enacting a line-of-business restriction for platform companies would take away valuable products and services that shoppers value. Banning Amazon from selling AmazonBasics products is equivalent to banning Costco from selling Kirkland products – it makes no sense.
The ACCESS Act would force a few covered platform companies to disclose all their consumer data to competitors via a government-mandated “interface.” The bill would create massive privacy and liability issues, as companies would lose the ability to apply their own data security measures to information once it is imported to another platform. This would provide malicious hackers or criminals with a prime opportunity to circumvent security protocols implemented by certain platforms to access sensitive consumer data.
Additionally, the ACCESS Act requires companies to petition the FTC to make any changes to interoperability standards. The FTC can deny requests based on any reason related to “undermining interoperability.”
Taken together, these bills massively increase government power to regulate the economy. If passed into law, Biden bureaucrats would win, American shoppers would lose.
Republican lawmakers need to vote NO on all five of these bills.