Sen. Josh Hawley on Monday will introduce a bill to “bust up” Big Tech, which will target massive companies like Google and Amazon, including by banning them from simultaneously running an online marketplace and selling goods on that marketplace.
The bill, titled the Bust Up Big Tech Act, follows a bill Hawley introduced last week that would ban mergers of companies worth more than $100 billion, which was targeted more broadly than just at the tech industry.
Hawley’s new, more focused bill would also ban companies that own online marketplaces or search engines from owning online hosting services, Hawley’s office told Fox News.
“Woke Big Tech companies like Google and Amazon have been coddled by Washington politicians for years. This treatment has allowed them to amass colossal amounts of power that they use to censor political opinions that they don’t agree with and shut out competitors who offer consumers an alternative to the status quo,” Hawley said in a statement. “It’s past time to bust up Big Tech companies, restore competition, and give power back the American consumers.”
Hawley’s office provided two specific examples of what the Bust Up Big Tech Act would do if enacted. It would ban Amazon from being able to sell Amazon-branded products on Amazon Marketplace, where its competitors also do business. The bill would also ban Amazon from simultaneously owning a large amount of the cloud computing services that many online companies use and continuing to run its ubiquitous retail business.
The bill would also give the Federal Trade Commission authority to monitor compliance with the law and allow state attorneys general and individual citizens to sue tech companies they believe are in violation of the law.
There are multiple other efforts in Congress to rein in the power of Big Tech, including from Democrats. It’s unlikely Hawley’s bill will be passed on its own without amendment, especially with Democrats in control of the House and Senate. But Hawley said he’s open to working with Democrats where their interests align in battling tech companies.
“I’m willing to work with her and anybody of any party and any background,” Hawley told Reuters last week when asked about a bill proposed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., that is similar to his previous legislation banning mergers for certain companies.
Some, however, are suspicious of Hawley’s efforts to regulate the tech industry, a sector that’s revolutionized how Americans live.
“[H]is claims that the industry, ‘hasn’t been a success … for the American economy,’ don’t ring true for so many Americans that are employed by or invested in these economic powerhouses, not to mention the millions of consumers who enjoy tech products,” Jessica Melugin, the director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s (CEI) Center for Technology and Innovation, said of Hawley’s merger-banning legislation.
CEI Senior Fellow Ryan Young called Hawley’s broader anti-tech efforts “feel-good populism” that is “just another culture war issue.”
Hawley, meanwhile, frames his effort as one aimed at bringing balance back to the American economy.
“[Amazon] should be broken up,” he tweeted last week, “no one company should be able to control e-commerce AND privilege its own products on the same platform AND control the cloud.”