The US antitrust bill, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, has been endorsed by the Department of Justice.

The bill was introduced after a report stating that a number of tech companies – including Apple – were guilty of engaging in “deeply disturbing” anticompetitive behavior

Background

We previously outlined the run-up to the act.

2019 saw the start of a year-long investigation into whether tech giants were guilty of anti-competitive behavior. Apple was one of the companies investigated, with Tim Cook required to testify before Congress – and was among the tech companies found to engage in “deeply disturbing” anticompetitive behavior.

Congress was initially expected to try to pass a single antitrust bill to tackle all of the issues identified, but instead for multiple bills. We’re currently up to six of these, one of which had been described as putting the entire Apple ecosystem at risk

If passed into law, it would impact Apple’s treatment of apps like Spotify, but some have suggested it could even bar the company from pre-installing its own apps on iPhones.

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act has made the most progress. Apple CEO Tim Cook personally lobbied against the bill, but his concerns were dismissed by co-sponsor Senator Amy Klobuchar. The bill had bipartisan support in the Senate Judiciary Committee, but it faces opposition from some in both houses.

US antitrust bill endorsed by DoJ

The WSJ reports that the Department of Justice has now thrown its weight behind the bill, arguing that it would enhance its ability to challenge anti-competitive behavior.

The Justice Department Monday endorsed legislation forbidding large digital platforms such as Amazon and Google from favoring their own products and services over competitors’, marking the Biden administration’s first full-throated support of the antitrust measure […]

The letter, obtained by The Wall Street Journal, expresses support for the American Innovation and Choice Online Act […]

“Discriminatory conduct by dominant platforms can sap the rewards from other innovators and entrepreneurs, reducing the incentives for entrepreneurship and innovation,” the letter says. “Even more importantly, the legislation may support the growth of new tech businesses adjacent to the platforms, which may ultimately pose a critically needed competitive check to the covered platforms themselves.”

The bills supplement existing antitrust laws by clarifying what kinds of conduct Congress views as anticompetitive and illegal, the letter adds, noting that “doing so would enhance the ability of the DOJ and [the Federal Trade Commission] to challenge that conduct.”

The DOJ’s backing increases the chances of the legislation being passed, but it’s still by no means certain that it will do so.

Photo: Macuic/Unsplash

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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