Big Tech: Projects targeting Google, Facebook and more companies will be presented to the US Senate panel

Deepak Gupta
Deepak Gupta January 20, 2022
Updated 2022/01/20 at 2:37 PM

The US Senate Judiciary Committee is due to decide on Thursday whether the Senate should vote on two bills aimed at reining in tech giants such as Alphabet’s Google and Meta’s Facebook.

Lawmakers should consider an amended version of a bill introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar, Democrat, and Chuck Grassley, Republican, that would prevent tech platforms like Amazon from giving preference to their own businesses on their websites.

The amended version would expand the definition of companies covered by the bill to include companies such as the popular video app TikTok, according to sources familiar with the matter.

China’s Tencent, which owns the WeChat messaging app, would also be covered by the project, according to a source.

Two sources familiar with the matter said it was unclear whether the Klobuchar-Grassley measure had the votes needed to send the measure to the Senate floor for final approval. The sources asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak about the matter on the record.

A second bill, led by US Senators Richard Blumenthal and Marsha Blackburn, is also on the agenda. The Open App Markets Act would prevent large app stores like Apple from requiring app providers to use their payment system and would prohibit them from punishing apps that offer different prices through another app store or payment system.

This bill is on the agenda for the first time Thursday, which means it is likely to be delayed by at least a week.

Both measures, and other bills aimed at Big Tech, have unleashed a storm of opposition from powerful business groups. US Chamber of Commerce Policy Director Neil Bradley opposed the bill supported by Klobuchar and Grassley. “The targeted companies are the ones that have the scale and innovation to help us during the pandemic, whether that’s allowing millions of people to work remotely (or getting essential items delivered to our doorsteps,” he said.

Advocacy group Consumer Reports said it would support the Klobuchar/Grassley bill to “redefine the power asymmetry between Big Tech, consumers and small businesses.”

Both projects have a version presented in the US House of Representatives.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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