U.S. senators to introduce bill to protect small businesses

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U.S. senators to introduce bill to protect small businesses

NEW YORK - A bipartisan group of U.S. senators will introduce a bill to prevent Big Tech from pressing an advantage over smaller competitors, providing a major test of antitrust legislation aimed at technology companies under President Joe Biden's administration.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee, said they would introduce the American Innovation and Choice Online Act to Congress early next week.

As mainstream digital platforms become increasingly dominant - some of the biggest companies in the world have seen - increasingly give preference to their own products and services, we must put policies in place to ensure small businesses and entrepreneurs still have the opportunity to succeed in the digital marketplace.

The bill would prohibit companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook or Google from engaging in discriminatory behavior that favors their own products over those of competitors on their marketplaces. Such self-referential strategies include a company prioritizing its own products and services in search results.

On Wednesday, Reuters released an investigation into Amazon, revealing how the company copied competitors' products and then favored its own brands in India.

Big tech needs to be held accountable if they behave discriminatory, Grassley said in a statement. Our bill will help create an even playing field and ensure that small businesses are able to compete with these platforms. The Chamber of Progress, a trade group representing tech companies including Amazon, Facebook and Google, criticized the bill in a statement, declaring it takes a hammer to tech products that consumers love. Chamber CEO Adam Kovacevich said the bill does not embrace corporate ideas popular among voters, but merely as a result of progressive lobbying and will put American products at a competitive disadvantage.

Klobuchar, who published a book this year about antitrust issues in Western Europe, said the United States trails other countries, particularly those in the Digital Age, in its approach to regulation of big tech.

Given the international role of massive tech companies, the U.S. Justice Department could have to build an apparatus that works with its counterparts across the globe, she told NPR last week.

What you have seen was this isn't just about our country alone, she said. And we can actually have an organization with the Justice Department of the United States that is working together with other justice departments. I need to up my game. The proposed Senate legislation, which has a companion bill with the same name that passed the House Judiciary Committee in June, could serve as a bellwether for Biden's antitrust agenda, one of the few major issues drawing bipartisan support.

Co-sponsors of the bill include prominent senators from both sides of the aisle, such as Democrat Lindsey Graham, who chairs the judiciary committee, and Republican Richard Durbin.