U.S. lawmakers introduced another wave of proposed legislation aimed at Big Tech on Thursday, their latest attempt to catch up to what European regulators have been doing for years.
On Thursday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced plans to introduce a bipartisan bill that would prevent dominant online platforms owned by Big Tech companies such as Apple Inc.
and Alphabet Inc.’s Google
from favoring their products at the expense of third-party vendors. In the House of Representatives, a group of Democrats announced plans to introduce a bill to remove some Section 230 liability protections for tech platforms on the heels of last week’s Facebook Inc.
whistleblower hearings. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act generally provides internet platforms legal immunity from posting of third-party content.
The newest legislation is part of an ambitious push to rein in the growing power of tech’s largest companies in the U.S., which has largely failed to pass laws in recent years, while Europe has moved forward. The comparison is jarring: While the European Union blazes a regulatory trail in fines and charges against Big Tech, U.S. lawmakers are holding hearings and wagging fingers at tech execs.
Europe has already passed the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act, which could enter into law next year and require companies to stop self-preferencing. That is, for example, when app search results on digital platforms like Apple’s App Store, Google Play and the company’s dominant search engine, and Amazon.com Inc.
prominently display product developed by the tech giant operating that platform.
That is just one of a series of attempts in Europe to balance the growing power of Big Tech platforms. The EU has fined Google nearly $10 billion in total, and has at least four cases against Apple, while empowering the European Commission to fine companies up to 10% of their global turnover for violating rules that the U.S. has yet to establish, such as the General Data Protection Regulation, which became enforceable in May 2018. The UK’s Age Appropriate Design Code, also known as the Children’s Code, went into effect last month and requires companies that target users younger than 18 to comply with 15 standards.
“Congress has been sort of asleep while the EU has been moving forward,” Ariel Fox Johnson, senior counsel of global policy at Common Sense, told MarketWatch.
The House and Senate have spent much of the past two years working on antitrust bills that would significantly rein in the enormous powers of Big Tech. However, the pandemic, 2020 presidential election, and battles over President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda have led to glacial progress — as has been the case for at least 20 years on the tech regulatory front.