Biden targets big tech in decree targeting anti-competitive practices

Biden targets big tech in decree targeting anti-competitive practices

Joe Biden signed an executive order targeting anti-competitive practices in the economy that could have major consequences ramifications for America’s biggest tech companies.

Friday’s order is the latest of Biden’s actions on antitrust issues, which have appealed to progressives who have called for more action on corporate power – especially among big tech companies – for years.

More than a dozen federal agencies will be affected by the order, which includes 72 actions and suggestions designed to “quickly tackle some of our economy’s most pressing competition concerns,” the White House said.

At a signing ceremony at the White House, Biden denounced the current era of commercial monopolies. “Rather than competing for consumers, they consume their competitors; rather than competing for workers, they find ways to get the upper hand on the job, ”he said.

“Let’s be clear: capitalism without competition is not capitalism. It is exploitation.

The latest actions for big tech

Technological measures suggested in the ordinance include restoring net neutrality, reviewing problematic mergers, promoting rules against excessive corporate oversight, preventing unfair termination fees from internet service providers like Verizon and AT&T. , and the laws on the “right of reparation”.

Biden asked increased merger control by leading technology companies, “with particular attention to” nascent competitor acquisition, serial mergers, data accumulation, competition from ‘free’ products and the effect on privacy users “.

This could affect past mergers that were originally approved but recently received further scrutiny by the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC), including Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram. in 2012.

The moves targeting big tech acquisitions come weeks after Biden appointed antitrust scholar Lina Khan to the FTC, signaling a renewed effort to target big tech companies.

It also encourages the FTC to limit the ability of farm equipment manufacturers to restrict the use of independent repair shops or do-it-yourself repairs, such as when tractor companies prevent farmers from repairing their own tractors.

In order, Biden also encourages the Federal Communications Commission to restore net neutrality, measures to prevent Internet service providers from preferring certain content and websites over others, which were canceled in 2017 under the Trump administration.

However, internet freedom advocates say many of the steps Biden urged the FCC to take cannot move forward until the administration appoints a fifth commissioner, as the board of administration of four people has stalled in recent years.

Evan Greer, director of digital rights organization Fight for the Future, said the administration must quickly appoint a commissioner who “has no connection to the telecommunications industry and will stand up to internet service providers, who support the restoration of net neutrality. , and which will expand broadband access for everyone ”.

“The decree has a lot of good words, but we have to see actions for those words to make sense,” she said.

Other affected sectors

The order isn’t just targeting the tech space – Biden’s efforts to harness corporate power also extend to his infrastructure plans, as he called on big corporations to pay their ‘fair share’ of taxes. to help fund its proposals.

Discussing the need to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans, Biden said on Wednesday, “I’m not trying to fool anyone, but, I mean, just step into the game.”

The ordinance will prohibit or limit non-compete agreements to facilitate job change and increase wages in certain industries, allow rule changes that would pave the way for the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids in pharmacies and will prohibit excessive early termination fees. by Internet companies.

In the airline industry, the administration requires companies to provide clear and up-front information on additional charges and make it easier for customers to obtain reimbursements.

The ordinance urges the process of changing banks to be made easier by requiring banks to allow customers to bring their financial data with them to another business.

It includes several provisions that could affect the agricultural industry. He calls on the US Department of Agriculture to consider issuing new rules defining when meat can use “Product of USA” labels. Democratic lawmakers and union leaders applauded the order.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota who chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, said Biden’s executive order needed to be bolstered by congressional action.

“Competition policy needs new energy and new approaches so that we can solve America’s monopoly problem,” Klobuchar said. “This means legislation to update our antitrust laws, but it also means reinventing what the federal government can do to promote competition under our current laws. “

The Associated Press contributed to this report


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