ICYMI: “Breaking Big Tech Bad”

Washington, D.C. (06/06/2022) – A new editorial in The Wall Street Journal outlines how lawmakers who are rushing to pass the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA) with little to no debate will ultimately create more problems than they will solve by taking away popular services offered by tech companies in a misguided effort to level the playing field for small businesses.

Breaking Big Tech Bad

The Wall Street Journal

By: The Editorial Board

June 5, 2022

When lawmakers and regulators move too fast, they break things. But then breakage seems to be the main point of a bipartisan group of Senators pushing legislation that would punish Big Tech companies. The bill has received little debate, yet Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants to hold a vote pronto.

The Senate Judiciary Committee in January voted 16-6 to advance the deceptively named American Innovation and Choice Online Act. The bill has six Republican co-sponsors. Some Republicans want to take a swing at tech companies for censoring conservatives while posing as defenders of small business.

The bill empowers the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department to restrict business practices of “covered platforms.” The bill initially would capture Amazon, Alphabet (Google), Apple, Meta (Facebook), Microsoft, Tencent ( WeChat ) and ByteDance (TikTok), though it could eventually sweep in others, including Twitter and Walmart.

These platforms would be barred from giving “preference” to their own products or services. Regulators will have broad discretion to decide what that means. Is Amazon giving preference to its own distribution service by providing free two-day shipping for its Prime members? Is Apple favoring its Safari browser by pre-installing it on iPhones?

Tech companies would have to re-engineer their platforms to avoid complaints from regulators and rivals. As a result, Amazon Prime subscribers might also not be allowed to stream Amazon original movies and TV shows for free or get free-two day shipping. A host of services that benefit consumers could disappear based on bureaucratic whim.

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