The bipartisan legislation marks Congress’s most significant push to date to rein in Silicon Valley, in some cases taking direct aim at tech giants’ underlying business models.
If successful, the legislation could force Google (GOOG) to stop promoting YouTube in its search results, or prohibit Amazon (AMZN) from selling products on its marketplace that compete directly with third-party seller listings. Apple (AAPL) could be required to relax its restrictions on iOS app developers, and Facebook (FB) could be banned from acquiring nascent companies for the purpose of stifling future rivals.
The most aggressive of the five bills, which addresses concerns about tech giants using their control over multiple business lines to favor their own products or to suppress rivals, opens the door to breakups of the companies if they don’t comply.
“For example, a search engine could not own a video service that it has incentives to favor in search results,” according to press material provided for the proposed legislation. “In such instances the bill requires dominant platforms to divest lines of business where the platform’s gatekeeper power allows it to favor its own services or disadvantage rivals.”
The bills do not name specific companies. But virtually every legislative proposal seeks to respond to the findings of a 16-month investigation of the tech industry conducted by the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel. That investigation concluded, in a landmark report, that Amazon,…