By Aldgra Fredly
Two U.S. senators introduced a new bipartisan bill on July 27 aiming to rein in the power of big tech platforms that they said have been exploiting consumers’ data and threatening national security.
The bill, proposed by senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), will create a bipartisan regulatory body charged with policing tech platforms like Facebook, Google, and Amazon to promote competition, protect consumers, and strengthen national security.
It would empower the regulatory body, along with the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice, to enforce violations of the law. Digital platforms will risk losing their operating license if they repeatedly violate the law.
“It’s time to rein in Big Tech. And we can’t do it with a law that only nibbles around the edges of the problem. Piecemeal efforts to stop abusive and dangerous practices have failed,” Mr. Graham said on Twitter.
“Congress is too slow, it lacks the tech expertise, and the army of Big Tech lobbyists can pick off individual efforts easier than shooting fish in a barrel,” he added.
The bill entails that dominant platforms must either be owned by U.S. citizens or have a U.S. subsidiary. It will impose restrictions on data processing in certain countries and require platforms to identify bots.
The legislation would also restrict the use of Americans’ personal data by tech companies for targeted advertising and provide users with the right to access and know when their data is collected and processed.
Mr. Graham said the creation of a regulatory commission to oversee Big Tech would mark “the first step in a long journey to protect American consumers from the massive power” held by these companies.
“I have heard too many stories from families who feel helpless in the face of Big Tech. Stories about children being bullied to the point of committing suicide. Human trafficking. Exploitation of minors. All the while the social media platforms look the other way,” he said.
“Today, we take the first step and provide consumers with the tools they need to begin leveling the playing field.”
‘Top Priority on Both Sides’
The legislation would ban abuses of dominance such as self-preferencing, tying arrangements, pre-dispute arbitration agreements and class-action waivers, non-compete agreements, and no-poach agreements.
In order to create a level playing field and prevent anti-competitive practices, the bill would also authorize prospective and retrospective reviews of Big Tech mergers and prohibit conflicts of interest.
Ms. Warren said that President Joe Biden had previously called for the passage of bipartisan legislation to rein in Big Tech and strengthen antitrust enforcement to boost competition in the tech industry.
She was referring to Mr. Biden’s State of the Union address in February, in which he urged to pass bipartisan legislation “to stop Big Tech from collecting personal data on kids and teenagers online, ban targeted advertising to children, and impose stricter limits on the personal data these companies collect.”
“For too long, giant tech companies have exploited consumers’ data, invaded Americans’ privacy, threatened our national security, and stomped out the competition in our economy,” Ms. Warren said in a statement.
“This bipartisan bill would create a new tech regulator, and it makes clear that reining in Big Tech platforms is a top priority on both sides of the aisle,” she added.
Last year, dozens of companies and business organizations sent a letter to U.S. Congress members urging them to support a bill that would rein in Big Tech companies. The bill, sponsored by Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and other lawmakers, aimed to bar tech firms from giving preference to their own businesses.
Companies supporting the measure, which include Yelp, Sonos, DuckDuckGo, and Spotify, called it a “moderate and sensible bill aimed squarely at well-documented abuses by the very largest online platforms.”
Reuters contributed to this report.