- The Washington Times - Monday, November 8, 2021

A proposal to prevent large technology companies like Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook from acquiring competitors has gained bipartisan support in the Senate.

Sens. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, and Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat, introduced the Platform Competition and Opportunity Act to create a presumption against mergers and acquisitions by large tech companies.

The bill would require certain tech firms to show that any purchase of greater than $50 million does not help sustain its dominant position in the marketplace, according to Mr. Cotton’s office.

“Under this bill, the largest tech monopolies will have the burden of proving that further acquisitions are lawful and good for the American people,” Mr. Cotton said in a statement.

Similar legislation advanced through the House Judiciary Committee this year, and Mr. Cotton and Ms. Klobuchar are looking to build momentum in the Senate with their proposal introduced late last week.

According to Mr. Cotton’s office, the Senate bill differs from the House proposal by narrowing the scope of the affected tech firms and limiting the Federal Trade Commission’s discretion in enforcing the act.

The tech firms targeted by the Senate legislation have to fit a set of criteria, including that they have 50 million monthly active users based in the U.S. or 100,000 monthly active business users, and have a market capitalization of $600 billion.

Mr. Cotton’s office said the proposal intends to avoid ensnaring growing tech firms by applying the standards for enforcement to firms that meet the criteria within 30 days of the bill’s enactment.

Draft legislation published by Mr. Cotton indicates that targeted tech firms will have 30 days to petition for a review of a determination that they meet the bill’s criterion.

Opponents of the legislation say the bill picks winners and losers. Robby Soave, senior editor at the libertarian publication Reason, branded the bill’s targeting tech firms with a market capitalization of $600 billion as an “odiously crooked provision.”

“Two companies that are currently under the $600 billion line and thus exempt from the bill are mega-retailers Target and Walmart,” Mr. Soave wrote Monday. “These companies are both worth hundreds of billions of dollars, and their e-commerce platforms are growing at a rate faster than Amazon‘s. But under the Klobuchar/Cotton law, it wouldn’t matter if Target and Walmart overtake Amazon — they would be immune from this new antitrust action, as long as they are small enough on the day the bill is signed.”

Target has headquarters in Ms. Klobuchar‘s home state of Minnesota, and Walmart has headquarters in Mr. Cotton’s home state of Arkansas.

The legislation has prominent supporters on the left and the right, from the liberal Open Markets Institute to the conservative Internet Accountability Project.

The Senate proposal also won praise from House Judiciary Committee members responsible for helping to advance similar legislation, including Reps. David Cicilline, Rhode Island Democrat, and Ken Buck, Colorado Republican.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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