***Editor’s note: Big Tech companies have donated quite a bit of money to Chuck Grassley’s “Hawkeye PAC.” A Big Tech Censorship bill in the Iowa legislature passed through the Iowa Senate, but died in the Iowa House, where Chuck Grassley’s grandson, Pat, serves as Speaker.***
Q: How would your bipartisan American Innovation and Choice Online Act reform Big Tech platforms?
A: Americans may view technology as a curse or a blessing, particularly in the context of Big Tech’s grip on digital platforms. Advances in communication tools, streaming services and online shopping have helped millions of Americans access telehealth services, groceries, medication, digital learning and remote work, especially during the pandemic. Big Tech has transformed the economy and how Americans communicate and obtain goods and services, including news, entertainment and more. However, the biggest players in Big Tech have cornered the marketplace and exploit their size and dominance to unfairly stifle competition. My bipartisan bill with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, American Innovation and Choice Online Act would rein in anticompetitive practices that push out small businesses and entrepreneurs from gaining market share in the first place. Squeezing out the competition harms consumers and dampens innovation. Our bill would prohibit companies from unfairly giving an advantage to their own products over competitors who depend on their platforms to do business. It would toughen antitrust enforcement and level the playing field for fair competition. Let’s be clear what the bill does not do. It does not trim the sails of Big Tech titans merely to punish their success. It does not break or destroy products that consumers enjoy like Amazon Prime or Google Maps. It seeks to restore the competitive edge and innovation that makes America’s system of free enterprise the pillar of opportunity and prosperity and to help ensure consumers get the most bang for their buck. Our bill would help restore competition on the digital platforms to allow small and mid-sized start-ups to grow their business, gain market share, and win over consumers with innovation, better products and services and lower prices. That’s a win-win for the economy, consumers and start-ups.
Q: Do you see a path forward to get signed into law this Congress?
A: Since passing out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in January with a strong 16-6 bipartisan vote, I’ve worked to build momentum despite roadblocks put up along the way. The counter efforts by those who want to keep the status quo are ramping up as our bill inches closer to a vote in Congress. I’m not deterred in the slightest. I have worked on other commonsense reforms to tackle Goliaths of American industry whose anticompetitive business practices harm consumers, such as Big Pharma and Big Packers. In this particular case, I’m doubling down and leaning in to Midwestern pragmatism to rein in Big Tech’s abusive practices. I’m continuing my work at the policymaking table to improve our bipartisan, bicameral legislation to help advance the reforms through Congress. Specifically, we’ve updated our bill to increase user privacy and security, improve cybersecurity protections and ensure enforcement applies only to dominant online platforms. It explicitly does not impact subscription services, such as Amazon Prime. Reining in abusive practices will help cull the herd mentality that stifles competition and subverts entrepreneurs from jumping in the saddle. At my 99 county meetings, Iowans tell me they’re fed up with gatekeepers that censor content and decide what products and services are available in the marketplace. Americans ought to have the economic freedom to decide what they read, buy and consume. Ensuring the dominant digital platforms give free rein to the free market is good for consumers, good for innovation and better for the free exchange of ideas, content and products.