20+ Groups Commend Antitrust Subcommittee, Outline Next Steps for Curbing Big Tech’s Power

August 6, 2020 Press Release

Washington, D.C. — On the heels of last week’s historic Big Tech hearing, 23 organizations today sent a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, commending the subcommittee for its successful hearing and urging the subcommittee to recommend structural separations and bright line rules in its final report.

The organizations, representing a broad swath of interests, emphasize that it is now impossible to deny the power Big Tech maintains over the online and real economy, small businesses, and ultimately American democracy. Indeed, the subcommittee’s questioning of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple’s CEOs revealed patterns of anti-competitive mergers, mistreatment of sellers who use their platforms, and other abusive actions, from preferencing their own content to denying entrepreneurs access to their systems for arbitrary and capricious reasons.

Without structural solutions that will restore competitiveness and transparency to markets that currently have neither, the groups warn that much of the dangerous behavior identified during the investigation will continue. As Chairman Cicilline, remarked “These companies as they exist today have monopoly power. Some need to be broken up; all must be regulated and held accountable.”

“The Antitrust Subcommittee set the bar for what Congress can do when it stands up to monopoly power and represents small businesses and everyday families,” said Sarah Miller, Executive Director of the American Economic Liberties Project. “A year ago, it was almost unthinkable that policymakers would move to break the power of Big Tech. What the subcommittee’s investigation is demonstrating is that it’s now a question of when and how, not if.”

“Last week’s antitrust hearing, and the bipartisan investigation of which it was a capstone, are potentially historic endeavors that could result in the rule of law finally being applied to the titans of an industry that’s long acted with impunity,” said David Segal, Executive Director of Demand Progress Education Fund. The tech sector can be made to operate in a way that aligns with the interests of our economy and democracy — but to realize that promise, the committee must move forward with a report that contends with these companies’ abusive business models, makes its expectations to regulators clear, and proposes filling any gaps in existing law.”

“The big tech hearing was a tremendous example of how Congress should normally function — democratically elected leaders holding powerful institutions accountable,” said Zach Freed, Researcher at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “We urge the subcommittee to produce a report laying out a specific action plan that will lead to a breakup of Amazon.”

“Inspired by the courage of their constituents – Amazon workers, sellers, neighbors, and customers — members of Congress showed real courage last week in questioning Jeff Bezos about Amazon’s abuses of power,” said Dania Rajendra, Director of the Athena coalition. “More than five million people paid close attention, and any one of them could see that Amazon’s growing monopoly power threatens communities across the country, especially communities of color, as well as the American economy and our democracy itself. Across this country, people are looking for the House Judiciary Committee to take meaningful steps to rein in Amazon, including a path to structural separation. Public officials have the power to stop Amazon from bullying our communities – the time for Congress to act is now.”

A copy of the letter is available here. It was signed by: Align NY, American Economic Liberties Project, Athena, Awood Center, Backbone Campaign, Demand Progress Education Fund, Demos, Fight for the Future, Freedom From Facebook and Google, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Jobs With Justice, LAANE, Make the Road New Jersey, Make the Road New York, National Employment Law Project, New York Communities for Change, Open Markets Institute, Partnership for Working Families, Public Citizen, Revolving Door Project, S.T.O.P. – The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, United for Respect, and Warehouse Worker Resource Center.

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Economic Liberties works to ensure America’s system of commerce is structured to advance, rather than undermine, economic liberty, fair commerce, and a secure, inclusive democracy. AELP believes true economic liberty means entrepreneurs and businesses large and small succeed on the merits of their ideas and hard work; commerce empowers consumers, workers, farmers, and engineers instead of subjecting them to discrimination and abuse from financiers and monopolists; foreign trade arrangements support domestic security and democracy; and wealth is broadly distributed to support equitable political power.