Legislation would put in place common sense rules of the road for major digital platforms to ensure they cannot unfairly preference their own products and services
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) as well as U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senate Judiciary Committee Chair, Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member, Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) reintroduced the American Innovation and Choice Online Act. This bipartisan legislation would restore competition online by establishing common sense rules of the road for dominant digital platforms to prevent them from abusing their market power to hurt competition, online businesses, and consumers.
“Our nation’s prosperity is built on a foundation of fair competition and open markets. But right now we’re facing a monopoly problem as dominant digital platforms - some of the most powerful companies the world has ever known - increasingly give preference to their own products and services,” said Klobuchar. “It’s past time to put in place rules of the road to give small businesses and entrepreneurs a chance to compete and bring down costs for all consumers who rely on digital platforms. I won’t stop fighting to get this done.”
“While Big Tech has grown and evolved over the years, our laws have not changed to keep up and ensure these companies are competing fairly. These companies have continued to become a larger part of our everyday lives and the global economy, controlling what we see and how we engage on the internet,” Grassley said. “Big Tech needs to be held accountable if they behave in a discriminatory manner. Our bill will help create a more even playing field, ensure that small businesses are able to compete with these platforms and promote an environment for greater consumer choice.”
“Choice is fundamental to competition. American consumers have been systematically denied access to critical information about their market choices. The American Innovation and Online Choice Act will push back against strong arm tactics employed by Big Tech to disadvantage consumers and exclude competitors from the marketplace,” said Durbin.
“For too long, Big Tech has run roughshod over small businesses, and lax antitrust enforcers have refused to do anything. No more. Congress is finally beginning to take these issues seriously. This bill will outlaw much of the discrimination and self-preferencing that tech companies currently get away with,” said Hawley.
“Big Tech’s self-serving market manipulation hurts consumers, workers, and online business. Tech giants use their vast market dominance to unfairly boost their own products and services—and to disadvantage competitors. I’m proud to back this bipartisan bill to level the playing field, ensuring smaller competitors have a fighting chance and consumers have more options at fairer prices.” said Blumenthal.
“It’s clear the American people want Congress to rein in the enormous power of giant tech companies,” said Warner. “I’m committed to working with my colleagues on sensible, bipartisan reforms to check the worst behavior of these companies.”
Last year, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act made history as the first digital competition bill since the dawn of the internet to advance in Congress when it passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with a 16-6 vote. In December 2022, Klobuchar and Grassley’s Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act became law as part of the end of year funding package. This legislation updated merger filing fees for the first time since 2001, lowering fees on smaller acquisitions and increasing them for the largest mergers, raising additional revenue that Congress can use to fund antitrust enforcement.
The American Innovation and Choice Online Act will:
- Set clear, effective rules to protect competition and users doing business on dominant online platforms, including:
- Prohibiting dominant platforms from abusing their gatekeeper power by favoring their own products or services, disadvantaging rivals, or discriminating among businesses that use their platforms in a manner that would materially harm competition on the platform; and
- Prohibiting specific forms of conduct that are harmful to small businesses, entrepreneurs, and consumers, but that do not have any pro-competitive benefit, including:
- Preventing another business’s product or service from interoperating with the dominant platform or another business;
- Requiring a business to buy a dominant platform’s goods or services for preferred placement on its platform;
- Misusing a business’s data to compete against them; and
- Biasing search results in favor of the dominant firm.
- Give antitrust enforcers strong, flexible tools to deter violations and hold dominant platforms accountable when they cross the line into illegal behavior, including significant civil penalties, authority to seek broad injunctions, emergency interim relief, and potential forfeiture of executive compensation.
- Prevent self-preferencing and discriminatory conduct by the most economically significant online platforms with large U.S. user bases which function as “critical trading partners” for online businesses. For such platforms, the rules target harmful conduct, allowing the platforms to innovate, do business, and engage in pro-consumer conduct, including protecting user privacy and safety, preventing unlawful behavior, and maintaining a secure online experience for users.
Last Congress, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act was supported by the National Federation of Independent Business, Consumer Reports, the Consumer Federation of America, Public Knowledge, leading national security experts, leading antitrust legal scholars, small business organizations, and over 60 small and medium-sized companies and trade associations, including Spotify, Wyze, FuboTV and Quora.
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