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US Lawmakers Advance “Break Up” Antitrust Bill 

 |  June 24, 2021

The House Judiciary Committee narrowly advanced a sixth and final piece of legislation that has been dubbed the “break up” bill, on the notion that it ultimately could lead to tech giants shedding assets or splitting in two. US lawmakers advanced the “Break Up” antitrust bill on Thursday, June 24.

The bill, the Ending Platform Monopolies Act, which passed 21-20, would prohibit major tech platforms from selling product lines that they own and control, reported Reuters.

The bill is aimed at rooting out conflicts of interest that arise when a company like Amazon sells its own lines of products on its platform, giving it the incentive to disadvantage rivals. It also could pose a problem for Google, which ranks videos on its search engine, and also operates YouTube.

Over the span of 29 hours, the Judiciary Committee also passed five other bills, including one that prohibits major tech companies from discriminatory conduct, and another that requires that platforms make user data portable.

The support and opposition was not along party lines. The Ending Platform Monopolies Act was opposed by four Democrats, including Rep. Zoe Lofgren (Democrat -CA), Rep. Eric Swalwell (Democrat – California), Rep. Lou Correa (Democrat – California) and Rep. Greg Stanton (Democrat – Arizona). Two Republicans, Rep. Ken Buck (Republican – Colorado) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (Republican – Florida), joined with the rest of the Democrats to support the bill.

The legislation now faces a close vote in the full House, although it is unclear when the legislation would get to the floor.

On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters, “There have been concerns on both sides of the aisle about the consolidation of power of the tech companies, and this legislation is an attempt to address that.”

She confirmed a New York Times report that Apple CEO Tim Cook called her to warn her of the potential harms of the legislation.

Pelosi indicated that she told Cook that “Congress will work its will,” and that if Apple has “substantive concerns, and they have members that have voted with them on this, they can put forth what they want to put forth. But we are not going to ignore the consolidation that has happened, and the concern that exists on both sides of the aisle.”

Rep. David Cicilline (Democrat – Rhode Island), who along with Buck led the push for the legislation, said that he did not think that the bills would impact Amazon’s planned purchase of MGM, or platform streaming services in general.