House lawmakers proposed a raft of bipartisan legislation aimed at reining in the country’s biggest tech companies, including a bill that seeks to make Amazon and other large corporations effectively split in two or shed their private-label products.
Congress is considering the most significant changes to antitrust law in decades, including some proposals with bipartisan support. Lawmakers are looking at setting a higher bar for acquisitions by companies that dominate their markets; making it easier for the government to challenge anti-competitive conduct; and potentially forcing some giant technology companies to separate different lines of their businesses.
SpaceX in the waning weeks of the Trump administration won preliminary rights to $886 million in government backing to provide rural broadband service via Starlink, its system of low-Earth-orbiting satellites. The federal government is now planning a final round of vetting before it bets big that Elon Musk’s technology can help close persistent gaps in US high-speed internet service. The FCC is requiring SpaceX and others in line for subsidies to demonstrate their financial and technical wherewithal to build out a network, and Jan 29 was the deadline for submitting those plans.
Facebook and Google agreed to “cooperate and assist one another” if they ever faced an investigation into their pact to work together in online advertising, according to an unredacted version of a lawsuit filed by 10 states against Google. Ten Republican attorneys general, led by Texas, are alleging that the two companies cut a deal in September 2018 in which Facebook agreed not to compete with Google’s online advertising tools in return for special treatment
A coalition of state attorneys general sued Google, accusing the search giant of operating an illegal digital-advertising monopoly, in part thanks to an auction-rigging deal with rival Facebook. The complaint, filed in US District Court in Texas, alleges that Facebook emerged in 2017 as a powerful new rival to the Alphabet unit’s established dominance in the market for online advertising.
The law that enabled the rise of social media and other internet businesses is facing threats unlike anything in its 24-year history, with potentially significant consequences for websites that host user content.
America needs faster, more accessible mobile internet service—and the US military controls many airwaves that are well-suited to that task. How should the Pentagon share? Some want to tap the traditional US model and auction the spectrum to the highest bidder. Others say a new approach is called for: Let the government continue to own the spectrum rights while letting private companies rent it out, allowing more users to tap the spectrum at once.
Democratic lawmakers are expected to call on Congress to blunt the power of big technology companies, possibly through forced separation of online platforms. The House Antitrust Subcommittee is nearing completion of a report wrapping up its 15-month investigation of Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook. The report follows the committee’s collection of more than one million documents from the companies and competitors, as well as a July hearing with CEOs of the four tech giants.
Powerful technology companies are expected to face increased scrutiny no matter who wins the Nov. 3 election, but President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden differ on some of the problems posed by Big Tech and how to solve them. President Trump and his appointees likely would maintain—and possibly accelerate—the broad-scale regulatory scrutiny of technology companies that marked his first term.