Two of Five House Big Tech Antitrust Bills Pass Committee

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 23: With an image of himself on a screen in the background, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Financial Services Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill October 23, 2019 in Washington, DC. Zuckerberg testified about Facebook's proposed cryptocurrency …
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The American Choice and Innovation Online Act and the Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act passed the committee stage yesterday night, with a vote of 24 to 20 in the House Judiciary Committee. The Big Tech bills are now cleared to proceed to a floor vote.

The bills are part of a major package of antitrust legislation aimed at curbing the power of the Big Tech companies. According to the letter of the laws, they tightly restrict large tech companies from discriminating against their competitors.

The American Choice And Innovation Online Act would prohibit the largest of tech companies from behavior that “excludes or disadvantages the products, services, or lines of business of another business user relative to the covered platform operator’s own products, services, or lines of business.” For example, this might mean that Google would not be able to exclude competitors to YouTube from its app store or search results.

The ACCESS Act aims to ensure user control of data, mandating that the largest tech companies allow users to access their data in a “structured, commonly used, and machine-readable format.” It also forces the largest tech companies to keep their application programming interfaces, or APIs, open to competitors.

They also grant a great deal of enforcement power to the federal government, some of whom, like associate attorney general Vanita Gupta, have made no secret of their belief that tech platforms should be penalized for carrying “misinformation.”

Big Media lobbyists have tried to tie a separate bill, the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, to bipartisan antitrust efforts. The JCPA, condemned by Reps. Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, and others, would grant cartel power to big media companies that seek to collectively bargain with tech companies, giving them a much stronger bargaining position and an advantage over independent competitors.

The JCPA would give the force of law to an existing trend that emerged over the past five years, which has seen big media companies pressure Silicon Valley tech giants for prioritization in their algorithms and other special favors that give them an advantage over independent news content producers.

However, there is no sign that the antitrust subcommittee aims to tie the JCPA to these antitrust bills. The JCPA was not mentioned when the subcommittee announced its five antitrust bills earlier this month.

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election.

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