U.S. House Impeachment manager David Cicilline (D-RI) speaks on the second day of former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial at the U.S. Capitol on February 10, 2021 in Washington, DC.
A group of House Democrats is circulating discussion drafts of antitrust bills that would force the biggest tech companies to change parts of their business models and curtail large acquisitions, according to copies obtained by CNBC.
While the drafts could still change significantly prior to their introduction, as currently written, they could require business model overhauls for Apple and Amazon by limiting their ability to operate marketplaces for products and apps while selling their own goods and apps on those same stores.
The bills would also make it harder for those companies plus Facebook and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) to complete large mergers, and would force them to make it easier for users to leave their platforms with their data intact. CNBC couldn’t immediately learn when the drafts will be introduced.
The draft bills come after a 16-month investigation by the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust into the four companies, which culminated in a nearly 450-page report from Democratic staff last fall. While Republicans on the subcommittee diverged from some of the Democrats’ more extreme proposals, several agreed with the main findings of monopoly power and anticompetitive behavior in the Democratic report and on the need to rein in Big Tech’s power with antitrust reform.
Specifically, the five discussion drafts would prevent platforms from owning businesses that present a conflict of interest, bar large platforms from favoring their own products over those of competitors that rely on their sites, make it harder for large platforms to complete mergers, raise filing fees for acquisitions and mandate ways for users to transfer their data between platforms.
One of the bills, sponsored by Rep Joe Neguse, D-Colo., appears to be companion legislation to the bipartisan Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act in the Senate, which passed in that chamber on Tuesday as part of a larger $250 billion tech and manufacturing bill. That bill would raise the fees companies pay to notify the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice Antitrust Division of large mergers with the goal of raising money for those agencies.
The other four drafts obtained by CNBC include:…