Congressional antitrust report into Apple and others delayed

Release of the Congressional antitrust report into Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google has been delayed as Republican and Democrat members of the committee argue over its content, according to multiple sources today.

Republican Rep. Ken Buck has said that there is agreement on the fact that there is an antitrust problem, but the two sides have not reached agreement on the solutions …

Politico reports that there is agreement on what needs to be fixed, and the need for greater government oversight of big tech.

“I agree with Chairman Cicilline that Big Tech has acted in an anticompetitive manner,” Buck said in a statement to POLITICO Monday evening […]

Buck wrote that the majority’s incoming report “offers a chilling look into how Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook have used their power to control how we see and understand the world” […]

“We agree that antitrust enforcement agencies need additional resources and tools to provide proper oversight,” Buck wrote.

There is also agreement on so-called ‘data portability’: giving consumers tools to export their data from one platform and import it to another. This would make it easier for people to switch between iOS and Android, and macOS and Windows, for example.

It would also make it easier for new platforms to establish a foothold in the market. For example, a new social media company would have a better shot at success if people could import their existing history and friends from Facebook.

The two sides agree, too, on greater protections against companies swallowing smaller rivals.

Other areas of agreement between himself and panel Democrats, Buck said, are proposals for legislation to “shift the burden of proof for companies pursuing mergers and acquisitions” […]

The recommendations will include a ban on certain types of mergers, such as on “future acquisitions of potential rivals and start-ups” by major platforms.

But the biggest area of differences is in tougher powers. Democrats want to make it easier to force the break-up of tech giants which have become so dominant it is next to impossible for startups to compete. They also want to outlaw arbitration clauses, where companies ban customers from instigating class action lawsuits. Republicans oppose both measures.

It had been suggested that the report might be issued as early as today, but it’s said that publication has been delayed to allow further negotiation between the committee members.

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