15 votes

Democrats circulate draft antitrust bills that could reshape Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google

11 comments

  1. NaraVara
    Link
    I see there's two anti-monopoly bills that take very different tacks. Pramila Jayapal's: David Cicilline's: Jayapal's bill seems a little overly broad and ends up with a lot of problematic...

    I see there's two anti-monopoly bills that take very different tacks.

    Pramila Jayapal's:

    Ending Platform Monopolies Act: Sponsored by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the vice chair of the subcommittee, this bill would make it unlawful for a platform with at least 500,000 monthly active U.S. users and a market cap over $600 billion to own or operate a business that presents a clear conflict of interest. The draft defines an unlawful conflict as one that incentivizes a business to favor its own services over those of a competitors’ or disadvantage potential competitors that use the platform. Lawmakers have previously expressed concern that both Amazon and Apple, which run their own platforms for sellers and developers, respectively, could undermine competition due to a conflict of interest for their own competing products or apps.

    David Cicilline's:

    Platform Anti-Monopoly Act: This bill, proposed by Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, D-R.I., would prohibit dominant platforms from giving their own products and services advantages over those of competitors on the platform. It would also prohibit other types of discriminatory behavior by dominant platforms, like cutting off a competitor that uses the platform from services offered by the platform itself, and ban dominant platforms from using data collected on their services that isn’t public to others to fuel their own competing products, among several other prohibitions.

    Jayapal's bill seems a little overly broad and ends up with a lot of problematic "bycatch." In particular I can see it having a lot of, very difficult to untangle, security implications for a platform like iOS. Cicilline's version seems much more precisely targeted at what I think of as the problematic elements of platform consolidation. This paired with the requirement that companies have to validate that their merger proposals are valid instead of the other way around could probably go a long way.

    The ACCESS act is actually what I think is most interesting, but I just don't see it passing.

    Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act: This proposed bill from Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., would mandate dominant platforms maintain certain standards of data portability and interoperability, making it easier for consumers to take their data with them to other platforms.

    7 votes
  2. [5]
    teaearlgraycold
    Link
    Sounds like it doesn’t go far enough. But maybe the Republicans, somehow still enchanted by Trump, will actually be motivated to increase the restrictions in the bill after the deplatforming. Any...

    Sounds like it doesn’t go far enough. But maybe the Republicans, somehow still enchanted by Trump, will actually be motivated to increase the restrictions in the bill after the deplatforming. Any antitrust bill against tech giants should start by breaking them up.

    2 votes
    1. [4]
      Odysseus
      Link Parent
      Would you break up all of them? I get Facebook and Google. Both control multiple major platforms. Even Amazon with Twitch makes sense to an extent, but what about Apple? I have a lot of gripes...

      Would you break up all of them? I get Facebook and Google. Both control multiple major platforms. Even Amazon with Twitch makes sense to an extent, but what about Apple? I have a lot of gripes with the company, but how would you split that up? Force them to spin off their services into separate companies? Unlike the other big names, they're primarily a hardware company.

      3 votes
      1. JXM
        Link Parent
        Maybe not splitting up, but forcing them to allow others to compete fairly in their ecosystem would be a viable option (i.e., force them to let developers use other payment processors).

        Maybe not splitting up, but forcing them to allow others to compete fairly in their ecosystem would be a viable option (i.e., force them to let developers use other payment processors).

        4 votes
      2. [2]
        archevel
        Link Parent
        According to this https://www.investopedia.com/apple-s-5-most-profitable-lines-of-business-4684130 the iPhone made up more than 50% of the revenue. Almost 18% were from the services part of Apple....

        According to this https://www.investopedia.com/apple-s-5-most-profitable-lines-of-business-4684130 the iPhone made up more than 50% of the revenue. Almost 18% were from the services part of Apple. Not sure if splitting it up based on revenue streams like that would make sense though? Perhaps cutting it up in some other way would be better. Separating by geographics? Separating into a software/hardware part?

        I think the main competitive advantage for apple is their vertical integration of phardwarre and software. The software is built solely targeting Apple's hardware. If the company was broken up and they lost this the quality of their products would likely suffer.

        2 votes
        1. babypuncher
          Link Parent
          The problem is that there isn't a single market where Apple has a clear market majority, let alone anything approaching a monopoly.

          The problem is that there isn't a single market where Apple has a clear market majority, let alone anything approaching a monopoly.

          5 votes
  3. [5]
    Kuromantis
    Link
    500,000 users seems very low while 600 Billion seems very high. I wonder why they would choose both those numbers, assuming one or both of them weren't someone's typo?

    This bill would make it unlawful for a platform with at least 500,000 monthly active U.S. users and a market cap over $600 billion to own or operate a business that presents a clear conflict of interest.

    500,000 users seems very low while 600 Billion seems very high. I wonder why they would choose both those numbers, assuming one or both of them weren't someone's typo?

    1 vote
    1. [4]
      Wes
      Link Parent
      The market cap seems like a way of targeting FAANG companies ("big tech") without specifically calling them out.

      The market cap seems like a way of targeting FAANG companies ("big tech") without specifically calling them out.

      1 vote
      1. [3]
        JRandomHacker
        Link Parent
        Only tangentially-related: I know FAANG was originally more a descriptor of market dominance and not overall size/influence, but including Netflix increasingly strikes me as odd when using "FAANG"...

        Only tangentially-related: I know FAANG was originally more a descriptor of market dominance and not overall size/influence, but including Netflix increasingly strikes me as odd when using "FAANG" to mean "Big Tech"

        2 votes
        1. moocow1452
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Yeah, heard that maybe FAAAM should be floated as a new acronym, Facebook-Alphabet-Apple-Amazon-Microsoft. Kinda gives the impression that they're the big fam around Silicon Valley, and if you...

          Yeah, heard that maybe FAAAM should be floated as a new acronym, Facebook-Alphabet-Apple-Amazon-Microsoft. Kinda gives the impression that they're the big fam around Silicon Valley, and if you want to write cyberpunk, you can add IBM and Netflix back in for the FAAAMIN conglomerate.

          Edit: Would FA3MIN be better?

          3 votes
        2. hamstergeddon
          Link Parent
          I agree. As much as I hate the strategy of every studio or media conglomerate having their own streaming service, it does mean there's now a ton of competition in the streaming realm. Way more...

          I agree. As much as I hate the strategy of every studio or media conglomerate having their own streaming service, it does mean there's now a ton of competition in the streaming realm. Way more than there was when it was only Netflix and Hulu (but mostly Netflix).

          2 votes