After months of hearings and negotiations, pressure is mounting in the Senate to pass new laws that prohibit online platforms from favoring their own products and services over those of their competitors. On Thursday, a bipartisan group of senators announced plans to pass a non-discrimination law that could reshape Amazon’s online marketplace.
The American Choice and Innovation Online Act, led by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), would prevent platforms like Amazon, Apple and Google from using their dominance to control other companies and competitors using their platforms. In June, the House of Representatives lawmakers voted a bill of the same name from the Judiciary Committee. The Senate version of Klobuchar is not identical to that of the House, but has a similar language.
This announcement follows on a Wednesday Reuters report allege that Amazon used market search data to copy popular products and manipulate results in favor of the company’s own counterfeit products. a Thursday research of the layout also showed that the company puts its products ahead of its competitors.
For years, third-party sellers have accused Amazon of similar behavior. These allegations were part of a long-standing House antitrust investigation into Amazon and other tech giants by lawmakers, which sparked the original bipartisan bill in the House.
“When dominant tech firms shut out rivals and kill the competition, it hurts small businesses and can increase costs for YOU,” Klobuchar said in a tweet on Thursday. “My new bipartisan legislation with [Grassley] will adopt new traffic rules to prevent large companies from foreclosure of their smaller competitors.”
Outside of Amazon, the bill could also change the way Apple and Google run their app stores, banning the companies from favoring their own first-party apps and software. Earlier this year, Apple was ordered to allow app developers to send iOS users to payment options not offered by the iPhone manufacturer in a lawsuit filed by Epic Games. Google is facing a similar suit by the Fortnite business.
As of publication, Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) said at least five Republicans in the Senate have signed the legislation, including Sens. Cynthia Lummis (WY), Josh Hawley (MO), Lindsey Graham (SC) and John Kennedy (LA). This bipartisan support marks a major step forward for lawmakers looking to regulate online marketplaces, demonstrating that both Republicans and Democrats are willing to work together to fuel competition in the industry.
“Many ‘critics’ called our bipartisan antitrust bill ‘Democrat Bills,'” Buck said in a tweet. “That was false then, and it is false now.”
Despite widespread support from Congress, trade groups such as the Chamber of Progress issued statements Thursday suggesting that the bill will harm, not improve, online customer experiences.
“Preventing Amazon from selling Amazon Basics and banning Google Maps from search will do nothing to make the Internet better for families,” Adam Kovacevich, Chamber of Progress founder and CEO, said in a statement Thursday. “This is like calling an auto mechanic to fix your laptop.”
The coalition of the Chamber of Progress works with technology companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google.
Pressure is mounting on Congress to act against online marketplaces and counterfeit products as well. Last week, home lawmakers introduced the INFORM law, which would require platforms like Amazon to verify the identities of major sellers to curb the sale of counterfeit products.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.