US House antitrust chairman mulling multiple bills targeting Big Tech
David Cicilline, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel is reportedly planning to announce ten or more pieces of legislation squarely aimed at Big Tech companies. Cicilline's comments were first reported by Axios during an interview on Sunday. His office declined to comment. Axios summarized his move as the legislative equivalent of a swarm of drones rather than a single easy-to-defeat battleship.
Democratic Representative Cicilline told Axios that he did not want to give the Big tech companies and their hordes of lobbyists an easy target in the way of a single antitrust bill. In October last year, the antitrust panel released a 450-page long report which detailed the abuse of market power by companies including Apple, Amazon, Alphabet Inc.'s Google, and Facebook.
Cicilline is also working on a separate bill targeting Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a law that offers protection to tech platforms from liabilities arising due to posts users make on the platforms. He said that his proposal would focus on the decisions of companies like Facebook to amplify content posted by the users.
Cicilline explained that algorithms maximize engagement to drive up ad prices, which in turn produces profits for the company. He added that it was a set of business decisions for which the company should be liable. He told Axios that he is optimistic the Biden administration will support the work on antitrust. Cicilline said the pandemic demonstrated the monopoly of power Big Tech has.
He told Axios that Big Tech's investments into lobbying efforts is a clear indicator they want to prevent changes to the current ecosystem that benefits them enormously. He clarified that his intention is to use the range of bills to further the recommendations made in October. Cicilline also hopes to gain bipartisan support by way of multiple narrowly targeted bills.