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United States: parliamentarians attack tech giants head-on

At the end of a marathon session lasting nearly 24 hours in all, those elected recommended six measures to the House of Representatives, from the ownership of internet users’ data to means of fostering competition.

This is a huge victory for internet users, workers, as well as SMEs, welcomed on Twitter Democrat David Cicilline, chairman of the subcommittee on anti-competitive practices.

Sales platforms in the crosshairs

The latest text adopted on Thursday tackles a fundamental problem: it intends to limit the control exercised by the web giants over their sales platforms, where they are both judges and parties.

Amazon, for example, markets its own products on its e-commerce site, where it also sets the rules for other businesses that sell goods there. Apple is also concerned because of the App Store, its essential application store on iPhones for publishers.

The dual role of dominant platforms creates irreconcilable conflicts of interest, underlined Mr. Cicillin. The law project solve the problem by forcing them to choose between being a platform or marketing products and services on a platform.

The measure potentially paves the way for dismantling: Amazon could have to separate from its home products division, or Apple from its music streaming service.

The judicial commission has also approved a proposal that will impose the portability data andinteroperability services, to facilitate the procedures of Internet users wishing to leave Facebook, for example.

If you cannot move your information, you are a prisoner and a prisoner of the platform, argued Democrat Zoe Lofgren on Wednesday.

The commission also passed a bill to prohibit tech giants from acquiring competing companies in order to preserve their market power.

And parliamentarians have given the green light to the project that would ban platforms from favoring their own products – Google could no longer display its own services at the top of search results on the Internet, for example.

America has had enough

After years of reprimands, a few fines and mostly European offensives, these US policies have decided to do battle. Lawsuits have been launched in recent months, notably against Google and Facebook, for infringement of competition law.

America has had enough, had assen in introduction Wednesday morning David Cicilline, after 15 months of investigations and hearings on the powers accumulated by the GAFA.

Is the future of our economy going to be defined by the success of the best companies with the best ideas, or just the biggest companies with the biggest lobbying budgets?, he had asked.

Once adopted at the level of the judicial committee, the bills will have to go through the House of Representatives, with a Democratic majority, then through the Senate, where their fate is more uncertain.

Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Speaker of the House, said Thursday that she spoke with Apple boss Tim Cook, warning him that parliamentarians would move forward despite lobbying from Silicon Valley.

There are concerns on both right and left about the consolidation of the power of tech firms, and this legislation aims to address them., did she say.

The potential harmful effects of regulation

But for Republican Darrell Issa, these proposals radicals risk going die in the Senate if they ever escape the House.

Many policies and target firms point to the risk of unintended consequences for services used by hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Apple has insisted on the security dangers it believes would pose opening iPhones to applications downloaded outside of its well-controlled circuit.

Regulate platforms would have significant negative effects for the hundreds of thousands of US SMEs that sell products through our store, for his part assured Brian Huseman, a vice president of Amazon.

Several elected officials of the commission asked if it was constitutional to target groups so directly.

But others assure on the contrary that these proposals remain moderate, such as the Republican Kenneth Buck: This legislation […] reform anti-competition with a scalpel, not a chainsaw, he defended.

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