October 14, 2021

Grassley, Klobuchar, Colleagues to Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Rein in Big Tech

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act sets commonsense rules of the road for major digital platforms to ensure they cannot unfairly preference their own products and services

WASHINGTON – Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) announced today that they will introduce bipartisan legislation to restore competition online by establishing commonsense rules of the road for dominant digital platforms to prevent them from abusing their market power to harm competition, online businesses and consumers. 
 
“As Big Tech has grown and evolved over the years, our laws have not changed to keep up and ensure these companies are competing fairly. These companies have continued to become a larger part of our everyday lives and the global economy, controlling what we see and how we engage on the internet,” Grassley said. “Big Tech needs to be held accountable if they behave in a discriminatory manner. Our bill will help create a more even playing field and ensure that small businesses are able to compete with these platforms.”
 
“American prosperity was built on a foundation of open markets and fair competition, but right now our country faces a monopoly problem, and American consumers, workers, and businesses are paying the price,” Klobuchar said. “As dominant digital platforms – some of the biggest companies our world has ever seen – increasingly give preference to their own products and services, we must put policies in place to ensure small businesses and entrepreneurs still have the opportunity to succeed in the digital marketplace. This bill will do just that, while also providing consumers with the benefit of greater choice online. I’m proud to introduce this much-needed legislation alongside Senator Grassley, Chair Durbin, and a bipartisan group of our colleagues, and I look forward to it passing the Senate and being signed into law.”
 
The American Innovation and Choice Online Act will:
 
1.      Set clear, effective rules to protect competition and users doing business on dominant online platforms, including:
a. Prohibiting dominant platforms from abusing their gatekeeper power by favoring their own products or services, disadvantaging rivals, or discriminating among businesses that use their platforms in a manner that would materially harm competition on the platform; and
b. Prohibiting specific forms of conduct that are harmful to small businesses, entrepreneurs, and consumers, but that do not have any pro-competitive benefit, including:
  • i. Preventing another business’s product or service from interoperating with the dominant platform or another business;
  • ii. Requiring a business to buy a dominant platform’s goods or services for preferred placement on its platform;
  • iii. Misusing a business’s data to compete against them; and 
  • iv. Biasing search results in favor of the dominant firm.
 
2.      Give antitrust enforcers strong, flexible tools to deter violations and hold dominant platforms accountable when they cross the line into illegal behavior, including significant civil penalties, authority to seek broad injunctions, emergency interim relief, and potential forfeiture of executive compensation.
 
3.      Prevent self-preferencing and discriminatory conduct by the most economically significant online platforms with large U.S. user bases which function as “critical trading partners” for online businesses. For such platforms, the rules target harmful conduct, allowing the platforms to innovate, do business, and engage in pro-consumer conduct, including protecting user privacy and safety, preventing unlawful behavior, and maintaining a secure online experience for users.
 

This American Innovation and Choice Online Act is cosponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). A bipartisan group led by House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Ranking Member Ken Buck (R-Colorado.) introduced a similar version of the bill in the House of Representatives.