CNBC: Lawmakers are racing to pass tech antitrust reforms before midterms

June 6, 2022


A major piece of legislation that could reshape the tech industry is just a few steps away from becoming federal law. But advocates fear that if congressional leadership doesn’t usher it through before the midterms, or at least the end of the year, it could die.

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act, a Senate bill that closely resembles an earlier House version, advanced out of the Judiciary Committee earlier this year by a wide margin.

Known among staff and lawmakers as the self-preferencing or anti-discrimination bill, the legislation would prohibit dominant tech platforms like AmazonApple and Google from giving preferential treatment to their own services in marketplaces they operate. If passed, it could prevent Google from having its own travel recommendations at the top of search results, for example. Or Amazon might have to ensure its own products are ranked by the same criteria as competitors’ products.

Many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree passing antitrust legislation in a Republican-controlled Senate would be more difficult. But some said it’s not impossible, and that there even could be a second chance for the bills during the lame duck period at the end of the year, should Republicans gain back control in November’s midterms.

Though Buck said he thinks the self-preferencing bill is “most likely to pass before the August recess based on the conversations I’m having with the Democrat sponsors of the legislation,” he believes it would also have a shot in the last three months of the year if not.

“I think there will be antitrust legislation passed in the next Congress, regardless of which party is in power,” Buck said. “I think that the legislation would look somewhat different if Republicans are in, but I think a majority of the Republicans in the House conference now recognize the threat of Big Tech.”

Others disagree, including Mike Davis, president of the conservative Internet Accountability Project. “I don’t think they’re going to get done if Republicans take over the House next year,” Davis said. “This has to happen in the next two months or it’s not going to happen.”

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