WASHINGTON: US lawmakers debated into the early hours Thursday over details of legislation aimed at curbing the power of Big Tech firms with a sweeping reform of antitrust laws.
House Judiciary Committee members clashed while tweaking bills with potentially massive implications for large online platforms and their users.
Legislation being forwarded to the floor of the House of Representatives could force an overhaul of the practices of Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook, or potentially lead to a breakup of the dominant tech giants.
Critics argue the measures could have unintended consequences that would hurt consumers and some of the most popular online services.
Representative David Cicilline, who headed a 16-month investigation that led to the legislation, said the bills are aimed at restoring competition in markets stymied by monopolies.
“Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are gatekeepers to the online economy,” Cicilline said during the hearing.
“They bury or buy rivals and abuse their monopoly power, conduct that is harmful to consumers, competition, innovation and our democracy.”
The bills would restrict how online platforms operate, notably whether tech giants operating them can favor their own products or services.
The measures would also limit mergers or acquisitions by Big Tech firms aimed at limiting competition, and make it easier for users to try new services by requiring data “portability” and “interoperability.” AFP