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Democrats and Republicans show unity in big tech crackdown

Democrats and Republicans don’t seem to agree on much these days, but a group of committed lawmakers have aligned themselves with one goal: to harness the power of Big Tech.

The alliance was exposed on Wednesday when a bipartisan group of House lawmakers spoke to the press about their package of antitrust invoices announced Friday. The series of five bills, each co-sponsored by a Democrat and a Republican, aims to re-energize competition in digital markets by making it harder for dominant firms to acquire other firms and by prohibiting certain discriminatory practices, among others. measures.

Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler, DN.Y., said he plans to beef up the bills next week, a surprisingly quick turnaround that would allow the proposals to eventually be put to a vote in front of the whole from the room.

The bills are the result of an investigation by Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, DR.I., into the competitive practices of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., The subcommittee’s top Republican, admitted at Wednesday’s press conference that he didn’t always agree with the Democrats on the panel that legal reform was needed to resolve the perceived problems in the tech industry. Even though he is today Cicillin’s main Republican ally in the struggle for reform, it is time for him to look to changes in the law as the right solution.

Originally, Buck said, he believed the market would correct itself. But then the subcommittee organized a hearing on the ground in their country of origin where several business owners discussed how they were hurt by the power of big tech companies.

At that hearing, representatives from Basecamp, PopSockets, Sonos and Tile presented rare accusations about how big tech companies had abused their dominance. The CEO of PopSockets, for example, accused Amazon to “harass with a smile” to force its company to lower prices on Amazon or risk the company sourcing its products from third parties. An Amazon spokesperson said at the time that the company intends to continue working with PopSockets to provide “competitive pricing, availability, wide selection and prompt delivery” for these products to its customers. .

“When I looked at the conduct that is involved with these players, I am convinced that we need to do something beyond just letting the market take care of itself,” Buck said.

He said he’s still convinced the market will do its job, but now believes it will take at least a decade for that to happen. Waiting that long would give China too much time to catch up, he said.

Buck added that he believes more Republicans will similarly come to support the legislation as they understand the issues better.

Buck’s optimism could be rooted in the fact that several of his colleagues have already supported some of the proposed laws and expressed concern about the concentration of power in the tech industry.

“I may not agree with all of the bills in this package, and I am not,” said Representative Victoria Spartz, R-Ind. “I might not agree as to why we have monopoly problems, oligopoly problems, but we have these problems.”

Representative Chip Roy, R-Texas, referred to Amazon’s growing revenue during the pandemic as small businesses across the country suffered and shut down.

“This should be a wake-up call to all of us to make sure that the backbone of our economy, small businesses, entrepreneurs, free enterprise as we understand it as Americans, is alive and well and solid and make sure that we ‘We have the right structures in place to be able to preserve and protect that, ”Roy said.

“If we don’t start somewhere, if we don’t do something, this problem becomes a lot bigger,” Buck said.

WATCH: Here’s why some experts are calling for Big Tech to burst after House antitrust report

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