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Today there are only a handful of dominant companies that control what Americans can buy, hear and say online. Big Tech has power over the economy that we haven’t seen in generations, perhaps ever, and it grows even larger, taking over yet more of our daily lives. With this power, Big Tech is able to pick winners and losers on their platforms.

 

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They behave as gatekeepers for other businesses to reach consumers. They determine what news story, product or website gets to be at the top of search results. Many times that ends up being their own offering, putting small business owners who utilize these platforms at a serious disadvantage when it comes to reaching consumers. In other words, these giant companies are abusing their power to distort the online ecosystem for their own benefit.

 

Because of that power and control that Big Tech wields, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and I, along with several of our Senate colleagues, have introduced the American Innovation and Choice Online Act. Our legislation sets new restrictions on how these huge platforms can unfairly promote themselves and disadvantage rivals. It includes new interoperability requirements, limits the ability to demand preferred placement payments, prevents biased search results and establishes measures to ensure these platforms can’t just misuse a business’s data to compete against them.

 

Importantly, the legislation will establish significant penalties for violations. These tools will deter bad behavior and provide an avenue for redress that hasn’t existed before. This will ensure that dominant platforms will have to answer for unfair and unlawful monopolistic conduct.

 

In essence, the bill will ensure that Big Tech can be held accountable when they engage in a discriminatory and anticompetitive manner by setting clear rules for businesses on dominant platforms. This will help to promote competition by targeting harmful conduct while ensuring that innovative and pro-consumer conduct is protected.

 

Big Tech wants you to believe that this bill would hurt the success of small businesses who utilize their platforms. But the truth is, Big Tech is worried about their bottom line, not the success of small businesses. Our bill creates a more level landscape where small businesses and the platforms they use can operate and compete fairly – an environment where businesses both large and small can succeed.

 

Colleagues in the House of Representatives from both sides of the aisle have approved similar legislation. This isn’t a partisan issue. It’s not a regional issue. Because of the growing digital marketplace, it’s a problem that spans the American economy.

 

Ensuring that there are competitive and dynamic online markets is crucial to bringing more choices and lower prices to American consumers. I use the Big Tech platforms and believe they offer a great service to their consumers. This is not about arbitrarily breaking up companies or trying to tear down what they have built. I am a strong believer in the free market. America is still the greatest country in the world for starting and growing a business. 

 

That’s because we have had vigorous competition in an open and free market. However, it has become clear that a few Big Tech platforms have developed a stranglehold over the ability for small businesses to reach their customers. It’s clear that these companies are using their tremendous power to unfairly compete and control the online marketplace.

 

Our laws have not changed to keep up with the growing and evolving online ecosystem. The American Innovation and Choice Online Act will make sure all businesses can compete on an even and fair playing field online. This legislation and effective antitrust enforcement is the first step in clawing back the power over what we can buy, see and say online from these tech giants and return primacy to individual Americans in the marketplace.

Author: Charles Grassley

Chuck Grassley of New Hartford has represented Iowa in the United States Senate since 1980.

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