Senate Antitrust Bill Would Prohibit 'Dominant Platforms' From Hindering Competitors

A bipartisan Senate bill unveiled Thursday aims to curb the largest online platforms by prohibiting them from preferencing their own products or services.

The “American Choice and Innovation Act,” slated to be introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), would prohibit “dominant platforms” from “discriminating among businesses that use their platforms in a manner that would materially harm competition on the platform,” Klobuchar's office stated.

The bill would also prohibit dominant platforms from engaging in a variety of practices, including “misusing a business's data to compete against them,” and “biasing search results in favor of the dominant firm.”

The measure is similar to a House bill proposed in June by Rep. David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island).

Some consumer advocacy groups, including Public Knowledge, praised the proposal.

“This bill would prevent some of the key ways [platforms] can leverage that role to hurt competitors and consumers, such as giving their own products and services prime placement... stealing and copying the data of competitors, and limiting access to their platforms for competitive threats,” the organization stated Thursday.

But other groups, including the think tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, oppose the bill. That group said Thursday that the proposed legislation “would harm consumers because self-preferencing usually fosters competition rather than undermining it.”

The tech-industry-funded Chamber of Progress adds that the proposed bill would prevent companies from offering popular products and services. According to the organization, the bill would prevent Apple from pre-installing Facetime on iPhones, and would prohibit Amazon from offering free shipping to Prime members.

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