In a polarized political environment where working across party lines is rare, legislative measures to break up Big Tech monopolies have received support from both ends of the aisle. This reaction is owed to recently-released classified documents that could help lawmakers break up Big Tech companies.
According to reports, politicians may be able to restrain the influence of enormous corporations like Amazon, Facebook, and Google with the aid of a wealth of previously secret internal documents that were made public as part of a congressional probe into Big Tech.
As part of a bipartisan House Judiciary Committee inquiry into Big Tech corporations’ alleged criminal anti-competitive conduct, the extensively redacted internal records, which included emails and private business reports, were made public this week.
After a 16-month investigation led by the Antitrust Subcommittee, the Committee officially released (read below) its 450-page “Investigation of Competition in the Digital Marketplace” report on Tuesday, according to a press release issued on June 19 by Democratic U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, chairman of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative law.
According to Politico, the recently made official documents might “bolster the committee’s claims that the internet giants illegally favor their own products,” and add “ammunition to the push for Congress to toughen antitrust laws.”
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According to the press release from Tuesday, the recently disclosed documents also contain “internal Facebook documents showing the company views itself as dominant in the social networking market and insulated from competitive threats.”
As mentioned in the press release, previously classified communications obtained from Google seem to demonstrate that the company “leverages its control over the Android mobile operating system to prevent smartphone manufacturers from introducing products or services that compete with Google’s family of mobile apps.”
Furthermore, it is claimed that internal Amazon documents “demonstrate how Amazon’s abuses its dominance over e-commerce to coerce third-party sellers to purchase other services from Amazon, such as fulfillment and distribution.”
In a statement to Politico, Google spokesperson Peter Schottenfels disputed the committee’s findings, claiming the materials had been “cherry-picked” and that the investigation “relies on outdated documents and inaccurate allegations from our commercial rivals.”
Although it is uncertain whether the House Committee will be able to succeed in bringing antitrust litigation against the Big Tech companies (Politico noted that “pending legislation to update antitrust laws would make” lawsuits “more difficult”), the trust-busting drive has bipartisan support in a polarizing political environment that barely gets cooperation from both ends of the aisle.
Numerous Republicans have advanced initiatives to dismantle corporate monopolies through antitrust lawsuits, mainly motivated by a desire to limit Big Tech’s ability to muzzle conservative viewpoints.
For instance, Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley has been a fierce advocate for antitrust legislation targeting Big Tech companies.
The “Bust Up Big Tech Act” was first introduced by Hawley last year in an effort to prevent businesses from “seeking to dominate multiple industries simultaneously by banning companies like Amazon from marketing their own retail goods alongside those of other sellers or providing online hosting or cloud services to an ever-growing swath of the internet—including competitors.”
In January, Hawley, together with Republican Senators Lindsey Graham, Steve Daines, and Ted Cruz, joined forces with Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota to support Klobuchar’s bipartisan “American Innovation and Choice Online Act,” which would “ban self-preferencing by Big Tech platforms such as Amazon or Google,” according to protocol.com.
While efforts to break up Big Tech monopolies have had bipartisan backing, other Republican lawmakers and officials have concentrated their efforts on stopping social media giants from silencing conservative viewpoints.
Republican lawmakers have specifically campaigned for the removal of social media firms’ legal safeguards under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields businesses from legal accountability for information uploaded on their sites. Conservatives have claimed that firms that restrict or curate information, functioning more as an editor than a platform, should not be granted Section 230 protections.
Other Republicans, meanwhile, claim that social media corporations violated Americans’ first amendment rights by allegedly conspiring with the federal government to limit free speech.
The attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana filed a federal complaint in May alleging that the Biden administration collaborated with social media corporations to stifle Americans’ free expression on a variety of contentious issues.
According to The Center Square, U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty gave permission for the discovery portion of the trial to proceed last week.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, and five social media companies have been served with subpoenas in connection with the legal action.
Read the document below: