House panel debate on data portability faces strong push back from Big Tech

While the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee has voted to approve a bill to give antitrust enforcers more funds but it has yet to vote on four bills aimed at reining-in Big Tech.

U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee, termed the bills as a “historic package of bipartisan legislation” aimed at “reining in anticompetitive abuses of the most dominant firms online.”

Following the approval of legislation to significantly increase the budgets of the agencies enforcing antitrust law and ensure that antitrust cases brought by state attorneys general remain in the court they select, debate has begun on a bill that aims to require digital platforms to allow users to transfer their data elsewhere.

These sweeping reform bills are seeing strong headwinds from the powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as Alphabet Inc’s Google, Amazon.com Inc, Apple Inc and Facebook Inc.

Debate on the portability bill initially focused on whether the legislation was written to ensure it would not affect Microsoft – a Google antagonist.

When asked whether any bills were drafted to exclude Microsoft, Representative David Cicilline, chair of the committee’s antitrust panel and the driving force behind bills aimed at the four tech giants, said, “Absolutely not.”

Representative Pramila Jayapal said that it was possible that Microsoft would be covered by the four Big Tech bills, all of which have the same definition of which companies they affect.

Incidentally, lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to change the definition of online platforms, to include mobile platforms.

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