The House on Thursday passed a package of antitrust bills aimed at boosting antitrust enforcers’ ability to take on powerful tech firms in a 242-184 vote that split both parties. Thirty-nine Republicans joined most Democrats in voting for the bills.
The Big Tech behemoths are squeezing local media for content, controlling the algorithms that reach broad digital audiences, limiting or denying monetization and withholding data, which in turn control who can see the stories we are working so hard to tell. The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, which enjoys rare bipartisan support in Washington, is how local media need to fight back.
Two legislative bills that stand to protect newspapers from Big Tech’s power to dominate advertising currently hang in the balance. Here’s a closer look at why they were written, where they stand today, why they’re imperative to the future of the already-shaken newspaper industry — and why the midterm elections may hold the key to newsrooms’ ultimate survival.
Big Tech is beating up on broadcast consolidation as it pushes back on a bill that would give broadcasters and other original news creators an antitrust exemption to negotiate with the tech giants that leverage that original content online. The Computer and Communications Industry Association issued a pull-no-punches statement — the term “cartel” was used multiple times — following the Senate Judiciary Committee’s favorable referral of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (S. 673) to the Senate for a vote.
State attorneys general are leading efforts to crack down on the power of big technology firms, as highlighted by California’s suit filed last week against Amazon and a Texas-led coalition’s measured win in its fight against Google. The cases are just two in a long line of state-led efforts to rein in the power of tech giants that are showcasing the bipartisan angst at Big Tech and momentum on the state level to take on the industry’s most dominant companies while congressional efforts to do so are stalled.
Two hours into its Thursday markup, Republicans inserted provisions designed to limit the platforms’ abilities to moderate content, over the objections of lead sponsor Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who then withdrew the bill.
The Federal Trade Commission announced the initiative Thursday, seeking public comment on the effects of companies’ data collection and the potential benefit of new rules to protect consumers’ privacy. The FTC defines commercial surveillance as “the business of collecting, analyzing and profiting from information about people.”
Tech companies are slowing their frenetic hiring, but a combination of dominance and diversity is turning out to be — yet again — an overwhelming asset.
Competing for rights to games from the NFL and other leagues could be hard for broadcast and cable companies that “aren’t playing by the same financial rules.” The tech companies’ interest is a thrill for sports leagues and a terror for media companies that fear competition from rivals that collect tens of billions of dollars from dominant positions in other businesses. Last year, sports accounted for 95 of the 100 most viewed programs on television.
Lobbying both for and against legislation to crack down on U.S. tech giants is intensifying as the Senate enters a critical month for the antitrust bills. All eyes are on Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who will need to decide whether to prioritize measures to regulate Google, Apple, Amazon and Meta over other key bills prior to the August recess.
Hiring freezes and layoffs are hitting the tech sector as Silicon Valley prepares for a predicted recession. The hiring impacts are hitting companies of all sizes across tech, from industry giants to more nascent startups, signaling that the industry’s growth is slowing amid rising interest rates and surging inflation.
Facing a multimillion-dollar TV ad campaign by Big Tech to try and stop their online competition bill, sponsors of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act said they will not be thwarted by a campaign they assert is full of lies and disinformation. But the legislators also suggested the campaign may be working since the bill has yet to make it to the floor after a year of work refining the bill with input from stakeholders.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) on Thursday introduced legislation that would create a new federal watchdog to regulate the country’s biggest technology companies. The Federal Digital Platform Commission would have five members responsible for protecting consumers by developing and enforcing guardrails on Big Tech.
Big Tech and antitrust enforcement activists are squaring off over a couple of bipartisan bills in Congress meant to address the size and power of tech giants like Facebook, Amazon and Google. They made their opposing views known in dueling letters to congressional leaders considering the new legislation.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Wednesday the department supports a proposal that aims to block tech giants from giving preferential treatment to their own products and services. The Commerce Department’s backing adds to the Biden administration’s support behind the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, following a letter the Department of Justice released last month.
The Justice Department is backing an antitrust bill that would prohibit the largest tech companies from favoring their own products or services. “The Department views the rise of dominant platforms as presenting a threat to open markets and competition, with risks for consumers, businesses, innovation, resiliency, global competitiveness, and our democracy,” Peter Hyun, an acting assistant attorney general, said Monday in a letter to leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The European Union was expected to finalize the Digital Markets Act, the most sweeping legislation to regulate tech since a European privacy law was passed in 2018.
Broadcasters are pushing back hard on the FCC’s potential restoration of the mandate that broadcasters file data on the diversity of their workforces and that the data be available to the public, including by blaming Big Tech for some of broadcasting’s diversity recruiting problems.
Google, Meta, Twitter, Telegram and others are levers in the conflict, caught between demands from Ukraine, Russia, the European Union and the U.S.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is forcing big tech companies to decide how to handle state-controlled media outlets that spread propaganda and misinformation on behalf of the invaders.
The FTC should monitor tech companies’ use of virtual reality with an eye toward protecting children, a trio of Democratic lawmakers is urging.
A major piece of legislation aimed at limiting the business conduct of Amazon and other tech platforms cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, underscoring a bipartisan desire to curb the influence of major internet companies.
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol issued subpoenas on Thursday to four major social media companies — Alphabet, Meta, Reddit and Twitter — criticizing them for allowing extremism to spread on their platforms and saying they have failed to cooperate adequately with the inquiry.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a markup Thursday (Jan. 13) for a tough new online antitrust bill, and computer companies are not happy. The bill, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, was introduced back in October by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), chair of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee and a self-described leading antitrust reformer, and Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas. It‘s one of many proposed bills to rein in Big Tech, and not the only one backed by Klobuchar.
Some lawmakers from both parties argue that when social media sites boost the performance of hateful or violent posts, the sites become accomplices.
In a move that is a big blow to some big tech companies, Congress has voted to ban new equipment licenses for Chinese telecoms Huawei, ZTE and any other technology company the government concludes poses a national security threat, closing what one of the bill’s sponsors called a “dangerous loophole.”
America’s richest tech executives and their companies are in the crosshairs of a new effort by Democrats to pay for the party’s ambitious social spending plans. While the new billionaires tax and corporate tax minimum proposals are not specifically targeted toward tech, the industry would be among the hardest hit.
As advertised last week, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), joined by a bipartisan chorus of others, including Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), have introduced a bill that would crack down on Big Tech.
The tech industry immediately fired back against the bill.
Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Lina Khan took aim at big technology companies in her first appearance before Congress as the agency’s head, saying online digital platforms are partly to blame for a surge in fraud reported by Americans during the pandemic. “Fraud has continued to surge,“ Khan said Wednesday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. ”One reason is that fraud today is supercharged by digital platforms where this conduct is tolerated and even promoted.”
The president has stacked his administration with crusaders who have spent their careers challenging corporate consolidation.
President Biden plans to appoint lawyer Jonathan Kanter as the head of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) antitrust division, the White House announced Tuesday, another sign of the administration’s intention to take on Big Tech. Kanter has been a favorite pick of progressive organizations pushing for the DOJ and Federal Trade Commission to do more to crack down on anticompetitive conduct, especially in the tech industry.
A unanimous 1974 Supreme Court decision said newspapers could not be forced to publish replies from politicians they had criticized.
The order also seeks to take aim at tech giants Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon by calling for greater scrutiny of mergers, “especially by dominant internet platforms, with particular attention to the acquisition of nascent competitors, serial mergers, the accumulation of data, competition by ‘free’ products, and the effect on user privacy.”
When the Judiciary Committee began approving a suite of bills on Wednesday, fault lines were exposed that could make final passage difficult.
Executives, lobbyists, and more than a dozen groups paid by Big Tech have tried to head off bipartisan support for six bills meant to undo the dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.
Without speaking a word or scratching a pen across paper, President Joe Biden drove up the pressure on Big Tech companies already smarting under federal and congressional investigations, epic antitrust lawsuits and near-constant condemnation from politicians of both parties.
The National Association of Broadcasters said a recent appeals court decision has established the precedent for commission authority to levy regulatory fees on Big Tech. NAB has been pushing the FCC to start charging Big Tech and other unlicensed spectrum users such a fee, as it does broadcasters and other FCC licensees and said it is now clear the FCC has the authority to make it happen.