ByteDance, Tencent, Added to Senate Antitrust Bill

Senators Vow Action In Big Tech Antitrust Fight

A new antitrust bill headed to the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday (Jan. 20) has been expanded to include two Chinese social media giants.

As Bloomberg reports, the bill’s parameters are being widened to include companies with 1 billion monthly global users or $550 billion in yearly net sales, as well as the current threshold of a $550 billion market capitalization.

With this shift, TikTok, owned by ByteDance, and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat, would be covered by the bill, along with companies like Apple and Google. According to Bloomberg, Tencent declined to comment on the bill, while ByteDance did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The legislation, dubbed the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, would bar “gatekeeper” companies from using their platforms to give an edge to their own products.

Read more: Apple Warns Senate Legislation Would Reduce its User Privacy Measures

Tech companies in the U.S. have argued the bill would hamstring innovation, put privacy and security at risk by opening some platform functions to their competition and damage products that customers enjoy.

Competitors, meanwhile, have complained that Google and Amazon systematically favor their own products on their search engine and marketplace. This practice landed Google a 2.7 billion euro fine in the European Union, and the company is in the spotlight for allegedly favoring its businesses such as Google Flights and Google Maps.

Apple has written to the Judiciary Committee to argue that the legislation would diminish the privacy protection feature it put in place last year, and that those policy changes are working.

Learn more: Apple and Google Face Moment of Truth With Senate Hearing Over Antitrust Bills

The committee will also discuss a related bill, the Open App Markets Act, which aims to introduce more competition in app stores and would mainly affect Google and Apple.

If approved, the legislation would bar companies from requiring developers to use in-app payment systems as a condition of being distributed on their app stores. The law would also block Apple and Google from requiring developers to offer the best price in their app stores, thus allowing developers to offer users better prices for downloading their apps from other app stores or other websites.