By Mousume Roy, APAC Reporter, HCL Technologies Ltd.

 

A top Democratic lawmaker on antitrust issues said a bill aimed at reining in the market power of Big Tech platforms, like Amazon and Alphabet's Google, had the votes to pass both chambers of Congress in the next few weeks.

On the sidelines of an event to rally support for measures before the Senate and House of Representatives that would prevent tech platforms from favoring their own businesses in search and other ways, Representative David Cicilline, chair of the House antitrust subcommittee, said: "I'm very confident when these bills come to the floor, they will pass. Convincingly."

Last week, the US Senator Amy Klobuchar, chair of a Senate antitrust panel, said that she had enough support in the Senate to win passage.

To put it in context, the bill would ban self-preferencing by the biggest digital platforms and tech giants, which means banning Amazon from recommending its own generic products over third-party sellers and Google displaying its own Google Maps content at the top of its search results.

The legislation have been the subject of a ferocious amount of lobbying, with tech giants like Google and Amazon warning of dire consequences. For instance, the disappearance of popular consumer online applications like Google Maps. However, Cicilline called some of those allegations “lies” on Tuesday.

Early June, Amazon lambasted the bill saying in a blog post that the bill "jeopardizes two of the things American consumers love most about Amazon: the vast selection and low prices made possible by opening our store to third-party selling partners, and the promise of fast, free shipping through Amazon Prime."

Amazon argued the bill could harm the hundreds of thousands of small businesses that sell goods on its website as  large fines for violations "would make it difficult to justify the risk of Amazon offering a marketplace in which selling partners can participate."

The US Chamber of Commerce opposes the bill and said: “the legislation would empower government bureaucracy to reign over our economy. No longer would competition be evaluated on the merits, instead the interest of consumers would be sidelined in favor of the interest of competitors.”

A large number of business organizations, including Yelp, Sonos, DuckDuckGo and Spotify have sent a letter to US lawmakers, urging them to support the measures. According to The Washington Post, various industry groups have spent more than $10 million on television ads and internet advertising opposing the legislation.