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Big tech one step closer to crushing key U.S. antitrust bill

Trust the process —

The debate on the American Innovation and Choice Online Act will resume this fall.

Ashley Belanger

The sponsors of a major bipartisan antitrust bill have been fighting for a Senate vote for months and could pass “the first major technology competition bill” to be brought to the Senate “since the birth of the internet.” Now, The Wall Street Journal reports that due to Congress failed to schedule a vote before adjournment, and the bill will remain “up in the air.” That could mean big tech companies will prevail through intense lobbying and criticism and prevent the bill from passing a Senate vote. In just one week this summer, an industry group reportedly spent $22 million on ads targeting the bill. The bill is controversial because it targets Amazon, Big companies like Alphabet, Meta, and Apple. It prevents their self-preferred business practices, such as promoting their products over others, or forcing small businesses to buy ad space to compete. Critics like Google say the law could threaten everything from the quality of online services to national security, but proponents, such as the bill’s co-sponsor Representative David Cicilline (D-RI), say most critics It boils down to “from big tech.” Cicilline, Amazon , Apple, Google, Meta did not immediately respond to Ars’ requests for comment. The tech companies “either declined to comment or did not respond to The Wall Street Journal’s request for comment.” Supporters continue to crack down on Hill Any misinformation, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D.-NY) said supporters are actively working to secure a Senate vote. Big Tech has yet to win, Cicilline said. “We continue to have strong bipartisan support in both chambers and pass votes in both chambers,” Cicilline said. “It’s really just a matter of putting it on the calendar.”

Opponents of the bill affecting the delayed vote in Congress include the Computer and Communications Industry Association, which represents Amazon, Tech companies like Alphabet and Meta. CCIA president Matt Schruers told Ars that his team had been “talking regularly to staff and members of Congress”. He said the bill was “never ready for prime time” and that “as more members learned about the details and the issues it would pose for privacy, security and the economy, they had reservations about supporting it in a vote.”

The Center for American Progress, an independent nonpartisan policy body, declined to comment, but previously There is a lengthy analysis of both sides of this debate. One of the most well-known issues raised by critics of the bill is that it could limit the ability of big tech companies to moderate content without making claims of discrimination. The idea is that these companies would be so afraid of being sued that they would let every bit of offensive content spread on their platforms.

WIRED called the argument “weak ”, but the bill’s sponsors — who have been willing to engage with critics and amend the bill to acknowledge legitimate concerns — have been stuck with the argument. The Wall Street Journal reports that amendments to content moderation are being considered , but if sponsors challenge the content moderation portion of the bill, they risk losing Republican votes. Those votes are critical to passing the law and depend on the act’s explicit protections against discriminatory content moderation, a popular rallying point for conservatives right now. At present, the supporters of the antitrust bill still remain optimism. They can only hope Schumer will stick to a reported plan to vote on the American Innovation and Choice Online Act when Congress reconvenes this fall. However, Schumer also planned to hold a vote earlier this summer, but that never happened. If he fails to schedule another vote, the midterm elections could cede control of Congress to Republicans and could lead to the failure of the bill. Another bill co-sponsor, Senator Cha G. Grassley (R-IA) said further delays in regulating Big Tech would be bad for the economy and customers. The Justice Department, Commerce Department and the Biden administration have all expressed support for the bill. There is some confidence that the bipartisan support it currently enjoys will keep it from being squashed. If passed, the law will be enacted immediately, DOJ And the FTC will develop enforcement guidance within a year. After that, the maximum fine a big tech company can expect to pay is 15% of its total U.S. revenue during the breach. Legal experts say the law may never be sued because few companies risk non-compliance and possible prosecution. If passed, the law would effectively mean that the U.S. no longer trusts Big Tech to regulate itself — or cede oversight to the European Union. “Big tech companies want to maintain the status quo, which allows them to Expand your influence over our decisions, whether you’re a small businessman or a consumer,” Grassley said. “If we want action, we need a Senate vote, and we need a Senate vote as soon as possible.” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) told Ars she thought the bill was still a work in progress. “We already have common-sense rules of the road for the big tech platforms,” ​​Klobuchar said. “While we’ve spent more than $100 million on advertising, and thousands of lobbyists and lawyers have opposed this bill, But we still have broad support. I have had a constructive conversation with Senator Schumer and other colleagues about the timing, and I hope that when we return in the fall, we will have a vote on this bipartisan legislation.” Senator. Schumer and Senator Grassley did not immediately respond to Ars’ requests for comment.



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