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House Bills is trying to dissolve Amazon and other big tech companies

Congressmen have proposed a number of bipartisan bills aimed at controlling the country’s largest tech company.

Amazon.com Co., Ltd.

AMZN -0.08%

And other big companies effectively split into two or stream their own branded products.

When the bill becomes law (probably facing significant hurdles), it could significantly transform America’s most valuable companies and reshape the industry by extending its impact to almost every aspect of work and life. there is.

One of the proposed measures, entitled Ending Platform Monopolies Act, aims to require a structural separation between Amazon and other major tech companies to split the business. It is illegal for the Eligible Online Platform to “use the Eligible Platform to sell or provide a product or service” or to own a business that sells the Services as a condition of access to the Platform. Platform companies also couldn’t own a business that created conflicts of interest, such as creating “incentives and capabilities” for the platform to give its products an edge over its competitors.

Another bill takes a different approach to the target Platform self-priority.. The Platform prohibits any act that “makes the Target Platform Operator’s own products, services, or business units more advantageous than those of other Business Users” or excludes or disadvantages other businesses.

The proposed bill needs to be passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and the Senate, and may also require substantive Republican support.

Both Republicans and Democrats have signed each bill and are expected to participate further, according to parliamentary aides. Seven Republicans are backing the bill, and three different groups are signing each bill, according to people familiar with the situation.

David Siciline (D., RI), a top Democrat of the House Antitrust Subcommittee, said: “They are in a unique position to choose winners and losers, destroy small businesses, raise consumer prices and unemploy people. Our agenda will level the competition.”

Republican Party leader Ken Buck said to “break the Big Tech monopoly that controls what Americans see and say online and foster an online market that drives innovation.” Said to support the bill.

The four companies did not comment on the bill proposed on Friday. Everyone defends competitive practices and states that they operate products and services to benefit their customers.

Matt Schruers, chairman of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which has Facebook, Amazon, and Google members, said the House bill would disrupt Americans’ ability to use their favorite products. “Writing regulations for a handful of businesses will distort competition and worsen consumers,” he said.

Critics of the tech giant praised the legislation.

Roku Co., Ltd.

Parliamentarians competing with some tech giants praised “taking an important step in curbing the predatory and anti-competitive behavior of the country’s most powerful companies.”

Getting enough Republic support for the bill will be a difficult battle. Republicans are concerned about the power of tech companies, but many are skeptical of antitrust changes. Even if they pass, the law can take years to come into force as federal agencies try to enforce them against potential legal objections of the company.

“The fact that there is first-day support from Republican antitrust leaders suggests that these bills are undoubtedly feasible,” said Paul Gallant, an analyst at Cowen. Stated. Division is important.Can these invoices reach 60? [votes] In the Senate. “

Friday’s announcement Suppress the advantage of Big Tech..

Another step is to allow the online platform to interoperate with competitors’ services. That is, you need to allow users to communicate on different social networks, or allow e-commerce sellers to export customer reviews from one site to another. Summary provided by lawmakers.

The fourth bill covers mergers, so it is illegal for large platforms to buy rivals or potential rivals. The bill has been able to block “a small portion of all tech sector transactions” over the last decade, the summary said.

Lawmakers have also submitted bills to raise application fees for mergers worth more than $ 1 billion and lower them for transactions less than $ 500,000. In summary, it will generate an estimated $ 135 million for antitrust enforcement in the first year. A similar law recently passed the Senate.

Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon’s Worldwide Consumers, talks about the spread of Amazon’s private label. He is speaking at WSJ Tech Live.

Four of the five bills are narrowly focused Leading technology company.. By definition, the companies covered by the bill have a market capitalization of $ 600 billion or more, more than 50 million monthly active users, or more than 100,000 monthly active business users, and are capable “significant trading partners.” Must be. To restrict or block access to other companies’ customers or services.

No company has nominated the bill, but Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are currently the only ones that meet the parameters set out in those bills, according to people familiar with the matter. They are the same company that House Panel investigated as part of their Big Tech investigation.

Walmart Co., Ltd.

For example, you run an online marketplace and have your own branded products, but they are not subject to restrictions as they have a market capitalization of only $ 392 billion.

The self-priority bill prohibits “business users from restricting or interfering with target platform users to facilitate business transactions” and limits communication capabilities with customers from Amazon’s third-party sellers. Raises general complaints about.

Amazon operates one of the world’s largest platforms for third-party sellers to market their products, but competes with these vendors in the business of selling similar products under its own brand assortment. I will. Party seller.

Some lawmakers said the platform favored Amazon’s own products that would be detrimental to sellers, and accused Amazon of using third-party data to inform its brands of its products.Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported on Amazon employees Use third-party data The number of sellers on that website to launch their own branded line in violation of internal policy.

Amazon later began investigating that practice.Amazon CEO when testifying to Congress

Jeff Bezos

“We cannot guarantee that you have never violated that policy.”

In the past, a Seattle-based company said, “Large companies are not dominant by definition, and the presumption that success may be the result of anti-competitive behavior is simply wrong.”

If the Ending Platform Monopolies bill is passed, Amazon will need to split its business into two separate websites. One for third-party marketplaces and one for first-party. Amazon’s own brand division has dozens of brands with 158,000 products. It is also the market leader for devices such as Kindle eReader, Amazon Echos, and Fire TV streaming devices. Ring the doorbell..

The new bill would effectively mean that “search engines couldn’t own a video service that had incentives to support in search results,” a summary from lawmakers wrapped in a thin veil to Google’s YouTube. Said with a sloppy reference.

Self-priority bills can affect how Amazon retails and how Apple operates app stores.

Congress has traditionally blocked or reversed the expansion of large corporations. The ending platform antitrust law is compared to the Glass-Steagall law, which separates commercial and investment banks. The provision was subsequently abolished, but banks were restricted from non-financial operations under the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956. The Hepburn Act of 1906 restricted railroads from subsidized projects such as coal mining.

Due to the lack of parliamentary action, tech critics are looking to federal agencies.Google and Facebook are already Fighting antitrust proceedings, Amazon and Apple Under investigation of antitrust law..Federal Trade Commission Democrats Investigate the authority of the institution Regulate unfair competition methods. However, its permissions are relatively untested and can face legal issues.

Write to Dana Mattioli dana.mattioli@wsj.com And Ryan Tracy ryan.tracy@wsj.com

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House Bills is trying to dissolve Amazon and other big tech companies

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