By Theresa Rabbia
Technology is growing faster than the law is able to keep up, which ultimately creates a “virtual wild west” for Big Tech Companies. Last month, on October 18, 2021, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), along with support from other United State senators, introduced Senate Bill 2992 titled the “American Innovation and Choice Online Act.”  This act is backed by both Democrats and Republicans and aims to reconcile that ungoverned territory that Big Tech companies have been controlling for years. This bill aims to extend current anti-trust laws to include larger technology companies.
These companies do not necessarily hold monopoly powers in the traditional scope. In the historical sense, monopolies have been defined as “a company that dominates its sector or industry, meaning that it controls the majority of the market share of its goods or services, has little to no competitors, and its consumers have no real substitutes for the good or service provided by the business.” However, the Sherman Antitrust Act, which essentially outlawed monopolies, was enacted in 1890. Clearly, the Act’s terms have grown to mean more over 130 years than what was originally written. So, what specifically have big technology companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon, to name a few, even done to warrant these anti-trust regulations against them?
While it may not always be highly advertised in the news, companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook acquire more and more companies every year. Currently, big acquisitions, worth more than $92 million, are only required to be disclosed by antitrust laws, which leave smaller transactions undetectable to the public eye. In a study conducted by the Federal Trade Commission, it has been revealed that “Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon together made 616 acquisitions from 2010 to 2019 that fell below that reporting threshold but were worth at least $1 million.” This ultimately means that more and more companies are being bought out by these big tech which could further result in the limiting of competition. For example, Zappos, IMBd, Twitch and Goodreads are all owned by Amazon. Google owns Motorola, FitBit, YouTube and Waze to name only a few. This creates monopolistic tendencies since these big tech companies do not have financial limitations. Further, they are able to buy essentially whatever company they desire giving them control over that specific industry. Right now, there is a huge bias in favor of these big tech companies and the companies they have gained control over through their acquisitions because of the immense amount of resources and money big tech companies have. For example, these large companies have more money to advertise and market their products as compared to smaller businesses. Large tech companies are essentially outshining smaller companies and making them invisible.
In the long run, these million-dollar acquisitions can be harmful to democracy and capitalism. In regard to her proposed bill, Sen. 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.”
So what exactly does this bill aim to do? This bill would make it illegal for tech giants to unfairly preference their own products and services in a way that would harm competition. Also it would make it illegal for these companies to target users of their competitors and unfairly limit their ability to utilize competitors’ products or services. This bill has the potential to set for clear rules limiting Big Tech and allowing smaller businesses the ability to join the competitive playing field.
 Senate Bill website