House Antitrust Chairman David Cicilline (D-RI) Discusses Platform Dominance and Journalism at State of the Net

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House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D-RI) opened the State of the Net program with strong words about Google's perceived anti-competitive behavior, both as a gatekeeper and for its buying splurge in which it has gobbled up smaller firms. This "concentration of power" creates "pernicious impacts on a free and diverse press," Chairman Cicilline said, especially "in the absence of a competitive marketplace." He cited reports on Google's ability to manipulate traffic on its ad networks as well as with its readers and users. All of this affects "legacy news companies and digital publishers alike," Cicilline said. "The free and open incompatible with this trend toward centralization online." "It's vital that the House Antitrust Subcommittee takes up these matters in a top-to-bottom investigation [to determine] whether use of market power harms the competitive process online," he said. "We cannot have a democracy without a free and diverse press" that gives publishers "a level playing field to negotiate with dominant platforms." Chairman Cicilline said his subcommittee's hearings will "build a record to document anti-competitive behavior to develop a deep understanding of these markets in exploring every tool for preventing" abuses by platform operators.

Chairman Cicilline used the attack on Google as prelude to announce that he is reintroducing his 2018 “Journalism Competition and Preservation Act," which would create safe harbor for news publishers to negotiate business arrangements collectively with Google, Facebook, and other platforms.

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