The antitrust overhaul package yet to be passed, aimed at Big Tech, unveiled in Congress could have far-reaching consequences for how people use the internet as well as America’s largest and most successful corporations.
The five bills, which are scheduled for a committee vote on Wednesday, could pave the way for the reorganisation or breakup of internet behemoths, reshaping the entire internet ecosystem.
The measures would prohibit tech behemoths from operating a platform for third parties while also providing competing services on those platforms, dealing a major blow to companies like Apple and Amazon.
Legislators are also attempting to prohibit tech companies from prioritising their own products or services, with Google clearly in mind. Another requirement would be data “portability” and “interoperability,” which would make it easier for people to leave Facebook while retaining their data and contacts. The largest tech firms would also be prohibited from acquiring competitors, and funds for antitrust enforcement would be increased.
The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a vote on the package for Wednesday, which has some Republican support in addition to Democratic leadership, indicating that it is likely to pass in the full House of Representatives. The Senate’s fate is less certain.
The measures are the result of a 16-month investigation in the House led by antitrust subcommittee chairman David Cicilline, who concluded that tech behemoths were abusing their dominant positions and wielding too much economic power.
Other analysts issued stark warnings about the unintended consequences of upending the massively successful companies on which many consumers rely in their daily lives.