Oct 6, 2020 - Technology

GOP lawmakers push counter-proposals to tech antitrust report

A photo of Rep. Jim Jordan.
Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Pool via Getty Images

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are offering two reports of their own as alternatives to the sprawling tech antitrust report from panel Democrats.

Why it matters: They say the majority ignored anti-conservative bias in Silicon Valley and tacked too far left in its proposals — and their decision not to sign the majority report signals how tough it will be to pass any bipartisan legislation on this issue.

The big picture: Republicans say they agree with Democrats that Big Tech firms have grown too big and powerful but don't want to upend antitrust law to go after the companies' scale and power. Instead, they're proposing modest enforcement updates and remedies unrelated to antitrust law.

Driving the news: Republicans released an alternative report led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) Tuesday documenting perceived evidence of anti-conservative bias, such as Twitter adding fact-checks to various false claims from President Trump about mail-in voting.

  • The report proposes addressing these concerns by weakening Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives online companies a wide leeway to moderate their platforms as they see fit without assuming liability.

Meanwhile: Rep. Ken Buck led another report titled "The Third Way" that finds greater common ground with Democrats' findings. Buck contends both parties could likely come together on several key points:

  • providing antitrust enforcers with more resources;
  • requiring tech firms to let users port their data across platforms;
  • and toughening the standards for companies looking to prove that a given merger won't hurt competition.

Yes, but: Buck said in his report that Republicans view several of the majority's proposals as "non-starters":

  • curbing companies' ability to compete in their own marketplaces;
  • blocking digital platforms from favoring their own services and content;
  • and several proposals that could lead to more litigation against major companies.

Of note: Buck and Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Doug Collins (R-Ga.) signed their names to both reports. Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) also endorsed Jordan's report, while Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Az.) joined in signing on to the Buck-led report.

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