U.S. House committee approves blueprint for Big Tech crackdown By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logos of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google

By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee has formally approved a report accusing Big Tech companies of buying or crushing smaller firms, Representative David Cicilline’s office said in a statement Thursday.

With the approval during a marathon, partisan hearing, the more than 400 page staff report will become an official committee report, and the blueprint for legislation to rein in the market power of the likes of Alphabet (NASDAQ:) Inc’s Google, Apple Inc (NASDAQ:), Amazon.com (NASDAQ:) and Facebook (NASDAQ:).

The report was approved by a 24-17 vote that split along party lines. The companies have denied any wrongdoing.

The report first released in October – the first such congressional review of the tech industry – suggested extensive changes to antitrust law and described dozens of instances where it said the companies had misused their power.

“Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook each hold monopoly power over significant sectors of our economy. This monopoly moment must end,” Cicilline said in a statement. “Now that the Judiciary Committee has formally adopted our findings, I look forward to crafting legislation that addresses the significant concerns we have raised.”

The first bill has already been introduced. A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers led by Cicilline and Senator Amy Klobuchar introduced legislation in March aimed at making it easier for news organizations to negotiate collectively with platforms like Google and Facebook.

Also in the Senate, Klobuchar introduced a broader bill in February aimed at strengthening antitrust enforcers’ ability to stop mergers by lowering the bar for stopping deals and increasing resources for enforcers.

The Cicilline report, whose origins were bipartisan, contained a menu of potential changes in antitrust law.

Suggestions ranged from the aggressive, such as potentially barring companies like Amazon.com from operating the markets in which they also compete, to the less controversial, like increasing the budgets of the agencies that enforce antitrust law – the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission.

The report also urged Congress to allow antitrust enforcers more leeway in stopping companies from purchasing potential rivals, something that is now difficult.

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