The Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust appears to be ready for its own March madness, setting up a hearing that appears to herald the coming reintroduction of a trifecta of bills aimed at “Big Tech.” These are the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA), the Open App Markets Act (OAMA) and the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA). All three are fundamentally, conceptually flawed, and R Street has written much over the last two years to explain why they would each harm consumers by breaking some of the most popular products and services enjoyed by millions.

American Innovation and Choice Online Act

The AICOA expands antitrust laws to declare illegal a number of common business practices presumptively if they are employed by any of the five largest tech companies. The banned practices include preferencing one’s own products or discriminating against competitors’ equal access to an online platform “unfairly,” including by refusing to allow equal device software interoperability with competitors’ products. At the same time, the AICOA abandons the consumer welfare standard, the established framework for antitrust policy, for a more discretionary approach that may have implications well beyond the tech sector. R Street has explained:

Open App Markets Act

The OAMA aims to force the two largest competitors in the mobile app ecosystem, Google and Apple, to allow app developers to use their own in-app payment systems to allow easier “side-loading” of apps and app stores and to allow outside app developers equal access to device hardware and operating system features. R Street has explained:

Journalism Competition and Preservation Act

The JCPA allows news media companies (the definition of which changes with each version) immunity from antitrust laws so they can form a legal cartel that can collectively force large online platforms (principally Facebook and Google) that host links to news content to pay them. R Street has pointed out:

Deeper Dive

Meanwhile, R Street has also done deeper research into the history and dubious economics behind the contemporary progressive “Neo-Brandeisian” movement that is generating the push to expand antitrust enforcement radically, with Big Tech as its test case. We have argued that the bipartisan agreement on these antitrust bills is shallow at best and will backfire on Republicans who support it while risking America’s leadership and competitiveness on the global stage.