How the Klobuchar Bill could affect Big Tech in India

On September 13, a group of 13 companies urged the US Congress to pass a bill designed to rein in big Tech companies. Dubbed the Klobuchar bill by many, it could be important not only to the United States but also to global antitrust regulators. Mint explains:

What is Klobuchar Invoice?

The American Online Choice and Innovation Act (AICO) is an antitrust law in the United States that can have far-reaching effects on the operations of Big Tech companies. The purpose of the bill, as described on the website of the US Congress, is to “provide that certain discriminatory conduct by covered platforms would be unlawful and for other purposes .” It seeks to prevent Big Tech from advertising “business products, services or lines” relative to competitors, search results tend to favor them, restricting competitors’ access to data foundation, etc. The bill is co-sponsored by Democrat Amy Klobuchar and Republican Chuck Grassley.

How does it affect the big tech companies?

The bill applies to online platforms with more than 50 million monthly active users or annual market capitalization or US net sales of over $550 billion — like Apple, Google, Amazon and Meta. If passed, it would give US antitrust authorities the power to impose penalties on those platforms for unfairly prioritizing their own products and services, limiting other people’s products compete with their own, discriminate in the application of enforcement provisions, etc. Most of the bill’s language applies directly to the way app stores, media, etc. social media and e-commerce platforms operated by Big Tech platforms.

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Which companies want the bill passed?

The 13 companies include smaller tech companies like Mozilla, Proton and DuckDuckGo. Most of these companies make privacy mainstream in their products and are designed to block some of the core services of Big Tech companies. DuckDuckGo avoids personalized search, Proton designs privacy-focused products, while Mozilla runs the Firefox browser.

Why was the bill not passed?

The bill, which has been in the works since 2021, is expected to be put to a vote in the session that ends in August, and its supporters say they also have the necessary votes. However, other laws seem to have taken precedence. However, the big impact can come from lobbying. US reports show that the CEOs of Apple, Google and Amazon have been lobbying against the bill. Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that the four Big Tech and the trade group spent as much as $95 million.

What does the US bill mean for India?

Big Tech often opposes government policies, saying that they are governed not only by Indian law but also by law in the US. As a result, US antitrust laws will be key in how they operate globally. Besides, important US bills will set a precedent for regulators globally and bodies like the Competition Commission of India can take cues from them. Finally, the tech industry has pushed governments to draw parallels in regulations. Since these companies are of American origin, the US is also expected to lead these steps.

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