The Democratic Subcommittee on the U.S. House Judiciary today shared its recommendations to change antitrust laws and prevent anti-competitive practices by big companies like Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, and Facebook. This follows a 16-month investigation into these companies to reform the laws in the digital age.
First reported by CNBC, the nearly 450-page document shared by House Democrats reveals their takeaways based on hearings, interviews, and 1.3 million documents analyzed during this period. The committee recommends major changes in antitrust law as they believe giant technology companies are taking advantage of their “monopoly power” to prevent competition.
One of the main proposals is the requirement of structural separations of large companies, which would force these tech companies to be broken into different smaller companies. This would also prevent dominant platforms from entering adjacent business lines.
Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline mentioned a “Glass-Steagall for the Internet” in a reference to the law that separated commercial operations from investment banking in the 1930s. In other words, this could force Apple to separate its App Store operations into another company or Google to separate its YouTube operations.
Democrats suggest that dominant platforms shouldn’t be allowed to prioritize their own services in order to offer equal conditions to competitors. Another proposal is to require all tech companies to offer ways for users to easily transfer all data from one platform to another, allowing consumers to switch between products or services whenever they want.
The report argues that Apple has been taking advantage of how apps are distributed on iOS devices to reduce competition with its services. It also criticizes Amazon for its online store operations, Facebook for controlling online advertisements, and Google for dominating online search results.
However, Republicans disagreed with some of the proposals made by Democrats, such as the imposition of structural separations.
Apple has been facing multiple antitrust investigations around the world, mostly because the company doesn’t allow apps to be installed on iPhones and iPads from outside the App Store. In Europe, the Draft European Union legislation is considering prohibiting Apple and other companies from selling devices with their own pre-installed service apps.
Apple CEO Tim Cook testified in August at an antitrust hearing of the U.S. Judiciary Committee, which also heard CEOs from Amazon, Google, and Facebook.
You can read the full report from House Democrats here.