A high-profile attempt by the US Congress to rein in the country’s biggest internet companies is in danger of failing as time runs out before the midterm elections later this year.
According to Bloomberg, Google, Apple, Amazon, Meta Platforms, and their trade groups have poured nearly $95 million into lobbying since 2021, seeking to derail the Online Choice and Innovation Act. America (American Innovation and Choice Online Act), was created to address the market power of some of the wealthiest companies in the world.
After nearly two years of effort, the bill is at a critical juncture when the US Senate is expected to give it a final review before the November 2022 midterm elections. Supporters of the bill claim they have the necessary votes, but it is unclear whether they will achieve their goal as the US Senate is busy with other spending bills to pass.
“If the supporters of this bill get enough votes, it won’t be a bill anymore; it will be a law”, – Matt Schruers, President of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, representing the companies tech, say.
If it fails, it would be a major setback for politicians, activists and regulators who argue that Silicon Valley has too much control over people’s lives. On the contrary, it would mark a major victory for Big Tech, arguing that the bill undermines privacy, threatens national security and degrades products consumers love.
Even in the event of the bill’s failure, however, the attention gained from the measure helped build the antitrust movement into something larger than any single piece of legislation. Sarah Miller, head of the American Economic Freedom Project, an antitrust nonprofit, said she supported the bill and would like to see it passed, but she said it was “not just a fight.” happen once”.
Efforts to limit the power of tech giants through antitrust have received support from Republicans and Democrats but are likely to have a Republican majority in the House. The US in the next half term is expected to shift focus more towards accusations that internet platforms resist conservative views. That’s why the tech lobby is trying to “run at full capacity” on the antitrust issue.
The bill reportedly has 13 co-sponsors in the Senate, which needs 60 votes to pass before it is sent to the House of Representatives. The bill was passed by the House and Senate Judiciary Committees with strong support. Several amendments have addressed privacy and security concerns. Even so, its road to becoming law will not be easier. Congress must fund the government by September 2022 before the next fiscal year begins on October 1. Meanwhile, the Senate is expected to sit in session for just two weeks in October 2022 before the midterm elections.
“I don’t see it going through. Before the upcoming election, I expect the senators to return and focus on the issue of interest to the voters. Technology regulation is not one of those issues,” said Michael Petricone, senior vice president of government at the Consumer Technology Association, a trade group that includes Amazon, Google and Facebook. speak.