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US Senator Amy Klobuchar. Source: Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA via Reuters.
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  • Big Tech firms are to face a new US antitrust bill that would bar them from favouring their own products and services
  • The bill will be introduced early next week, but must pass both houses of Congress in order to become law
  • It would stop platforms from requiring companies operating on their sites to purchase the platform’s goods or services
  • It would also prevent tech firms from biasing search results in their favour

Big Tech platforms are facing renewed scrutiny as US Senators Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, and Republican Chuck Grassley seek to introduce a bill that would bar them from favouring their own products and services.

Amazon, for example, has been accused of using data from third-party sellers to determine what products it would create.

Based on thousands of internal documents, a special report published by Reuters this week found that Amazon’s Indian operations ran a systematic campaign of creating knockoff products while manipulating search results to boost those products in the country, one of Amazon’s largest growth markets.

The latest bill is one of several aimed at reining in tech firms, including Facebook and Apple. So far, none has become law. One, however, has passed in the Senate: a broader measure designed to increase resources for antitrust enforcers.

Senator Klobuchar’s office said the bill would be introduced early next week and would be a companion to a measure which has already passed the House Judiciary Committee. In order to become law, it must pass both houses of Congress.

Specifically, the bill would stop platforms from requiring companies operating on their sites to purchase the platform’s goods or services, and ban them from biasing search results in their favour.

“As dominant digital platforms — some of the biggest companies our world has ever seen — increasingly give preference to their own products and services, we must put policies in place to ensure small businesses and entrepreneurs still have the opportunity to succeed in the digital marketplace,” Senator Klobuchar said.

Antitrust advocate Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project, hailed the proposed bill as an effort “to turn the page on a failed era of antitrust enforcement”.

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