The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 16-6 this week to advance a major tech competition bill, says CNBC.
Heralded by some as legislators’ best chance to meaningfully reform laws around Big Tech, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act would have a considerable impact on firms such as Amazon, Apple, Google - as well as Meta and TikTok.
“Despite millions of lobbying dollars by monopolists spent to influence lawmakers, a bipartisan group of senators just stated with a clear voice that Big Tech is too powerful,” said Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project, in a statement.
As such, the legislation seeks to prevent dominant platforms from discriminating against businesses that depend upon its services. For instance, this means that Amazon and Apple may have to stop unfairly listing their own products highest in search rankings. The same may apply to Google’s search results.
In reaction to the motion, Big Tech platforms have launched a concerted lobbying and PR offensive. CNBC even reported that Ted Cruz, who voted to advance the bill, received a 40-minute phone call from Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, to debate the bill.
“We heard enough reservations from senators to make clear that this legislation is not ready for the Senate floor,” said Adam Kovacevich, CEO of tech-funded Chamber of Progress, in a statement following the vote. “The problems that Democrats are raising aren’t just tweaks - they are fundamental issues with how the bill could impact consumers, competitiveness and security.”
The White House has not yet indicated whether it will support the bill, but has showed signed of favouring increased competition in the space.
While the vote this week is a promising step for those hoping to see reform, the bill will need further attention from leadership in order to receive full approval from the Senate.