Klobuchar: “What’s made America strong and secure is a competitive economy that isn’t just dominated by a few major companies”
Klobuchar was joined by former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark
WASHINGTON – At Open Markets Institute’s conference titled “Busting the Big Myth on Anti-Monopoly Reform”, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, highlighted how her bipartisan legislation with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) will both support American innovation and protect national security.
“ I think we all know that simply putting some rules of the road in will actually increase competition and allow for the next Google. It’s how our country has created such a strong economy by stepping in and rejuvenating capitalism,” said Klobuchar.
Klobuchar also emphasized how the legislation will bolster national security: “The bill will allow for global competitiveness, and to me, that is really good for American security…when you look back through history, what’s made America strong and secure is a strong and secure economy, which means a competitive economy that isn’t just dominated by a few major companies, which is what we have going on right now with these platforms.”
Klobuchar is a leading voice on taking on big tech platforms to protect users and competition.
Last fall, she and Grassley introduced the American Innovation and Choice Online Act. This legislation would establish commonsense rules of the road to prevent dominant digital platforms from abusing their market power to harm competition, online businesses, and consumers.
Last February, Klobuchar introduced the Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act, sweeping antitrust legislation to give federal enforcers the resources they need to do their jobs, strengthen prohibitions on anticompetitive conduct and mergers, and make additional reforms to improve enforcement.
Thank you Rana and it is just an honor to be on with Barry and General Clark.
I think, just to step back a little, over the last several months two things have become very clear.
There is a real, bipartisan momentum to put forward basic rules of the road for tech. You saw that in the two bills that recently emerged from the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is the first time since the advent of the Internet that we passed any competition bills, to send them to the floor of the U.S. Senate.
Big Tech companies and their lobbyists are willing to say anything and do anything to stall our efforts to do so. In fact, spending $70 million dollars just last year, which doesn’t even include the ads. And I try to remind my colleagues of that all the time when they hear stories and other things about these bills.
I’m going to focus in a minute on your question. But, I did want to make clear what we’re dealing with. We have big tech titans functioning as gatekeepers. Google has over 90% of the search market, offering, which they didn’t do at the beginning, but now we’re seeing them do, services that directly compete with other companies, like Yelp, or Kayak, Roku, not to mention countless other small businesses or start-ups.
I don’t want to get rid of Google, I don’t want to get rid of Facebook, I don’t want to get rid of Apple. I have their phone right here. But I think we all know that simply putting some rules of the road in will actually increase competition and make for the next Google. It’s how our country has created such a strong economy by stepping in and rejuvenating capitalism. That’s exactly what we’re talking about with these bills. Because I don’t think that they need to charge up to 30% tax on competing app developers, which is basically what the charge is, and I don’t think they should be putting their own stuff in front of other people’s competing products, on their search engines. And I don’t think that they should be copying products, as recently happened with Amazon with a luggage organizer from a four-person firm, and they make one that looks like it and put it on Amazon Basics.
So that’s why we did this bill. That’s why we have the broad support, which was my first point, with people like I think Samantha Bee called it ‘the Ocean’s 11 of co-sponsors’ from Durbin to Graham to Mazie Hirono to John Kennedy to Mark Warner and of course, my co-sponsor Senator Grassley. So that’s why we’re doing it.
And you asked about national security? Right now, tech lobbyists are running around the Capitol telling anyone who will listen that Big Tech’s unchecked power is necessary to keep America competitive, and the truth is our bill is about promoting competition.
We have made a number of changes to the bill over time that would actually get at some of their concerns and some of the issues that they have raised. We have made those changes both from the House version, and also in the market. The bill, actually in my mind, will allow for global competitiveness, and to me, that is really good for American security.
In the words of former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, “America’s digital competition with China should begin with meaningful competition at home and the all-American reality that competition drives innovation.”
That’s where I’m coming from on that front. I’ve had to bat a lot of things away, from people claiming that agencies were against this bill, which I’ve never heard or seen proof of that, government agencies, something that came up. And all I’ve been able to find are former security people who are on the payroll of some company.
That’s why it’s really helpful to have General Clark with us today to kind of get at some of this. But when you look back through history, what’s made America strong and secure is a strong and secure economy, which means a competitive economy that isn’t just dominated by a few major companies, which is what we have going on right now with these platforms.