On Wednesday, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said the Commerce Department supports a key proposal aimed at forcing tech giants such as Facebook and Google to compete against smaller rival companies, eliminating preferential treatment to their products and services.
This announcement by Raimondo throws the full weight of the Biden administration behind the bill, adding to the Biden administration support of the American Innovations and Choice Online Act (AICOA).
Testifying before the Senate Commerce Committee, Raimondo applauded efforts by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Representative David Cicilline (D-RI) to champion the AICOA, a bill that would prohibit tech platforms from unfairly favoring their own proprietary services on their platforms over those of competing businesses.
Raimondo also said while testifying before the Committee, “Last month, the DOJ released a views letter on behalf of the administration in support of the AICOA, and I certainly support that and concur with the aim of the legislation and the views expressed in that views letter. I clearly agree that we need to improve competition, which increases innovation,” she added.
The bill has bipartisan support and advanced out of the Judiciary Committee in January in a 16-6 vote, but even supporters expressed reservations about the current bill, meaning it may undergo some major changes before it reaches the Senate floor.
The proposal would block dominant online companies like Amazon, Apple, Meta and Google, from preferencing their products and discriminating against rivals on their platforms.
DOJ antitrust officials are currently suing Google for allegedly abusing its dominance in the search and advertising markets. At the time of the letter, policy analysts said the DOJ note increases the odds of the AICOA passing.
Raimondo’s endorsement could provide a further boost to the legislation as the U.S. lawmakers seek to follow in the footsteps of the European Union. In the past month, the EU has approved two sweeping legislative proposals to regulate social media and competition in technology markets.
Under the proposed U.S. Legislation, Apple could have to allow iPhone users to install apps from non-official app stores, while companies such as Google could have to change how they display search results. The tech industry has argued against the bill, saying it could undermine user security and result n worse experiences for consumers.
This seems like a classic case of big government invading our personal decisions in everyday life, trying to take another phase of our freedom away, our freedom of choice, even in personal technology.