The American Congress puts a whole series of laws in motion. That could even lead to the break-up of corporations like Amazon and Google. America’s tech giants are threatened with new calamities in Europe too.
Et is a huge shot across the bow of the tech giants from Silicon Valley: The House of Representatives in the US Congress tabled five bills on Friday aimed at limiting the power of companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple.
If implemented, these initiatives would be arguably the most significant change to US antitrust laws in a long time, and the consequences could be dire. It could become easier to break up the corporations and forbid them to sell certain products. There could also be new hurdles for the acquisition of competitors.
It is noteworthy that there is at least a certain amount of non-partisan support for these initiatives. All five drafts were initiated by a representative from each of the major parties.
David Cicilline of the Democrats, who heads the House Antitrust Committee, said, “Unregulated tech companies have too much power over our economy right now.” Ken Buck of the Republicans said Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google were all anti-competitive their monopoly positions.
The bills are the result of more than a year of investigation in the House of Representatives into the market power of the big tech companies. This also included a hearing with the CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and the Google parent holding Alphabet last July.
In the fall, the Democrats issued a nearly 450-page, sharply worded final report. It stated that the four companies are today “the kind of monopoly we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons”. This report should have been a kind of guide for the laws that have now been presented.
The move in the House of Representatives underlines once again that the tech giants are increasingly being put on the defensive by politicians and regulators and have to fear interference with their business models.
Spectacular antitrust lawsuits were filed against Google and Facebook in America last year. Google is accused of having abused its dominant position in Internet search and the associated advertising business. The Facebook lawsuit aims to smash the social network and force it to give up the two services Instagram and Whatsapp that were once purchased.
Printing from states and Europe too
Antitrust investigations are also ongoing against Apple and Amazon, which could lead to lawsuits. Individual states are also increasing the pressure. Ohio filed a lawsuit against Google a few days ago, demanding that the Internet company be treated like an electricity supplier for “discriminatory and anti-competitive” behavior.
In Europe, too, America’s tech giants are threatened with more and more disasters in the form of antitrust proceedings and possible new laws.
In the House of Representatives’ draft bills that have now been presented, the big tech companies are not mentioned by name, but in view of the business practices described therein it is clear that they are at stake. Four of the five proposals are specifically aimed at companies that reach a certain size, for example a stock market value of 600 billion dollars, which severely limits the circle of those affected.