Big Tech on Capital Hill

We know it’s a major issue when even politicians agree on new privacy legislation…

Over the last 16-months, the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee has conducted a deep dive investigation into problems with big tech ranging from monopolizing the industry to abuse of consumer data.

The findings have resulted in five proposed bills that have the power to make big changes.

Let’s rewind a little bit.

These investigations began a few years ago and have succeeded in uncovering the abuse of data and unfair competitive strategies employed by companies like Amazon and Google.

In 2018, a startling report was released by the Wall Street Journal accusing Amazon of using consumer data harvested from third party sellers to create products — something that the company had previously denied doing.

Using proprietary data collected from these third-party sellers, Amazon was able to gain unfair market insights into the popularity of products, pricing, and market response. In addition to these policy violations, Amazon was also accused of using third-party data to gain inside information on start-ups in an effort to duplicate products or undercut new ideas.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

In 2020, Bezos (Amazon), Zuckerberg (Facebook), and Cook (Apple) were all brought before congress to testify during an antitrust hearing. All three took bipartisan blows accusing them of everything from politically biased release of information to the abuse of consumer data to monopolize markets and topple fragile start-ups.

Their findings resulted in the release of a report in October of 2020 that was…less than kind (to put it politely).

Read the full report here.

These lengthy investigations led to the creation of the five bills currently making their way through congress.

Now that you’re up to speed, let’s dive into these proposed bills.

Click on the headers to read the full text.

The “American Innovation and Choice Online Act”

This one focused primarily on unfair competitive advantage and the need to prohibit conduct that can be construed as discriminatory across commerce platforms. It states that it’s now unlawful for covered platforms to engage in activity that undercuts competitors using unfair means. Say goodbye to using third-party data to shut down the competition!

The “Platform Competition and Opportunity Act”

This bill fights the monopolization of online platforms. It prohibits dominating platforms (Ahem, Amazon) from purchasing rising competitors in an effort to pretty much own their corner of online ecommerce.

The “Ending Platform Monopolies Act”

Here, the bill takes into consideration the existing monopolies and makes an effort to eliminate their manipulation of their current power. Monopolies can no longer use their market share to influence the market in their favor.

The “Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act”

The ACCESS bill will lower the barrier of entry for new businesses by creating new standards for the use of data to create a competitive advantage.

The “Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act”

This bill is more business heavy and focuses on preventing controlling platforms from mergers that could result in unfair industry monopolizations. Looking out for the little guy so to speak.

What does this mean for the future of big tech and the consumers who rely on it?

While these five bills may seem like they only focus on the business side of e-commerce, they also provide additional guidance on the use of consumer data. It’s a win-win that can set a new precedence for the way that our shopping habits are collected, catalogued, and used in the future.’

Big tech may have to adapt their strategies to adopt more ethical growth practices and to develop a new way to “fairly” infiltrate the markets they play in.

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