SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — More than 30 Attorneys General across the country are asking Congress to modernize antitrust laws, and part of that could mean changing how tech companies offer their products and services to us.
"An example of this could be that if you bought a new iPhone, it might not have an app store available on it, it might not come with any pre-loaded apps, and be ready to go out of the box the way that many consumers expect it to be," said Jennifer Huddleston, the Director of Technology and Innovation Policy at the American Action Forum. "Similarly, you could see concerns with Amazon and its ability to sell generic products."
The whole idea of current antitrust law is to protect consumers, and in most cases, lawmakers are focused on whether consumers are being harmed by anti-competitive behavior.
But rather than sticking with just this, the attorneys general say they want to control bigger tech companies -- like Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.
In their letter, they say they want to "protect consumers from unlawful and irresponsible mergers and business practices, and to facilitate competition and innovation."
This basically means stopping tech companies from becoming too big and swallowing up smaller ones, like Facebook did with Instagram and Whatsapp, all while making sure smaller tech companies have room to grow and make new tech products that benefit us all.
When asked why Utah's Attorney General Sean Reyes supports the push for modernizing antitrust laws, his office responded with: "The bottom line is that the world keeps changing. The antitrust laws need to be updated because competition is decreasing in some sections, technology is constantly changing, and there is room for more robust antitrust enforcement."
"It will be interesting to see what happens next around a lot of these proposals because I think there has been a good amount of concern expressed about the impact that they could have on consumers," Huddleston said.
So far, six antitrust bills have been proposed (H.R. 3825, H.R. 3816, H.R. 3826, H.R. 3849, H.R. 3843, and H.R. 3460) but none have made it to the house or the senate to be voted on.
The six bills include:
- Ending Platform Monopolies Act
- American Choice and Innovation Online Act
- Platform Competition and Opportunity Act
- ACCESS Act
- Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act
- State Antitrust Enforcement Venue Act
The letter to Congress was led by Attorneys General Phil Weiser of Colorado, Douglas Peterson of Nebraska, Letitia James of New York, and Herbert H. Slatery III of Tennessee.
They were joined by California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.