Biden’s DOJ supports Senate antitrust legislation targeting big tech companies

The Justice Department is backing a bipartisan Senate bill that would bar big tech companies from favoring their products over competitors – the latest sign that bipartisan efforts to curb the power of big tech companies are gaining momentum.

In a letter to senior lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee, a senior DOJ official expressed support for the American Innovation and Choice Online Act and its accompanying House bill.

The Senate panel voted in January to bring the bill forward to a full-level vote — despite objections from tech leaders who say it could have unintended consequences.

“The Department views the rise of dominant platforms as a threat to open markets and competition, with risks to consumers, businesses, innovation, resilience, global competitiveness and our democracy,” the Justice Department said said in the letterwhich was signed by acting Assistant Attorney General Peter S. Hyun.

Apple campus in California
The letter marked the first time President Biden’s DOJ supported an antitrust bill aimed at technology companies.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Senate bill would target the largest tech companies based on market valuation and user base – likely impacting companies like Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft. Among other things, companies would be prevented from advertising their own products and services in the search results in order to promote competition.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) co-sponsored the bill — a rare display of bipartisan harmony as both parties aim to crack down on the tech sector. The House Judiciary Committee introduced a similar bill last summer.

“We believe that this legislation, if enacted, has the potential to positively impact the dynamics of digital markets in the future,” the letter added. “Our future global competitiveness depends on innovators and entrepreneurs being able to access markets free of dominant incumbents that impede innovation, competition, resilience and widespread prosperity.”

The Wall Street Journal was the first to receive the letter.

Amazon building
The Senate bill would prevent large tech companies from prioritizing their products in search results.
dpa/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

While President Biden has backed action against companies believed to be engaging in anti-competitive business practices across multiple sectors, the letter marked the first time Biden’s DOJ has backed specific anti-Big Tech legislation.

Big tech companies argue that the antitrust law and other proposals could have harmful implications for national security and user privacy. Companies campaigning against America’s Innovation and Choice Online Act include Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Spotify and Twitter.

Ahead of January’s panel vote, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai reportedly personally lobbied members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to quash the legislation.

While the panel voted to move the bill forward, several senators said the final legislation would need to be amended before signing its approval. Biden’s DOJ supports Senate antitrust legislation targeting big tech companies


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