Lawmakers racing to pass tech antitrust tech reforms before midterms
A major legislative initiative that could reshape the technology sector is just a few steps from becoming law. The “American Innovation and Choice Online Act” would prohibit dominant online platforms from what its sponsors view as unfairly ranking their own products and services above those of competitors. Advocates believe the bill should pass before the midterm elections, or at least before the House of Representatives becomes controlled by Democrats, in order to achieve its goals.
. A bill that could reshape the technology industry is just a few legislative steps away from becoming federal legislation. But advocates fear that unless Congress shepherds it through before the midterm elections, or at least the year ends, it could die. The American Innovation and Choice Act, a Senate bill similar to an earlier House version, passed out of committee earlier this year by a large margin. Advocates say that the bill will allow consumers to choose what kind of internet service they receive, including whether they get access to certain services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Google Fiber. It also allows them to buy devices directly from manufacturers, instead of going through carriers. And it requires companies to disclose information about their privacy practices. “This is a very important issue because we need to give consumers choice, said Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts who sponsored the bill. He added that he hopes the bill will pass before the November election. If not, he said, lawmakers should consider passing it after the election. “I think there’s a real opportunity here to really change the dynamics of the market, he said. “We’re trying to level the playing field.
In 2019, Congress passed the “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act”, also known as SESTA, which made websites liable for third-party content posted by users. SESTA was criticized for its potential impact on free expression, especially on smaller sites, and for not providing any exceptions for news media outlets. A bipartisan coalition of senators introduced an amendment to the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act that would exempt online publishers from liability under SESTA.
Schumer is working with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., to get the bill passed through the House before the August recess. He also met with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on May 19 to talk about the bill.
Klobuchar asked Schumer to release the latest version, and he did so last week. Schumer said he fully supports the bill, and he is committed to getting it passed by early summer.
If you’re wondering why there isn’t any legislation yet, it’s because the House hasn’t even voted on its own version of the bill. That means we still need 60 votes in the Senate to get it passed. So far, there aren’t any signs that Democrats will be willing to give those 60 votes. And some Republicans have already said they oppose the bill. If anything, the delay could mean that Congress doesn’t actually move forward with any legislation at all.
CNBC reached out to lawmakers, advocates and opponents to get an idea of what it will take to move forward as congress races against the clock to approve tech antitrust reform. We also asked about the current landscape and what we should expect to see next.