NEW YORK -- A bipartisan group of U.S. senators will introduce a bill meant to prevent Big Tech from pressing an advantage over smaller competitors, providing a major test of antitrust legislation aimed at technology companies under President Joe Biden's administration.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the Democrat who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top-ranking Republican on the committee, said they will introduce the American Innovation and Choice Online Act to Congress early next week.
"As dominant digital platforms -- some of the biggest companies our world has ever seen -- increasingly give preference to their own products and services, we must put policies in place to ensure small businesses and entrepreneurs still have the opportunity to succeed in the digital marketplace," Klobuchar said in a statement.
The bill would prohibit companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google from engaging in discriminatory behavior that favors their own products over those of competitors on their marketplaces. Such "self-preferencing" tactics include a company prioritizing its own products and services in search results.
On Wednesday, Reuters published an investigation into Amazon, revealing how the company copied competitors' products and rigged search results to then favor its own brands in India.
"Big Tech needs to be held accountable if they behave in a discriminatory manner," Grassley said in a statement. "Our bill will help create a more even playing field and ensure that small businesses are able to compete with these platforms."
The Chamber of Progress, a trade group representing tech companies including Amazon, Facebook and Google, criticized the bill in a statement, claiming it "takes a hammer to tech products consumers love."
Chamber CEO Adam Kovacevich said the bill does not embrace ideas popular among voters, but rather is a product of corporate lobbying and will put American products at a competitive disadvantage.
Klobuchar, who published a book this year about antitrust issues in the digital age, said the U.S. trails other countries, particularly those in Western Europe, in its approach toward regulating Big Tech.
Given the transnational role of massive tech companies, the U.S. Justice Department may have to create an apparatus to work with its counterparts across the globe, she told NPR last week.
"What you've seen here is this isn't just about our country alone," she said. "And we can actually have an organization with the Justice Department of the United States that's working with other justice departments. That's in play. But we just have to up our game."
The planned Senate legislation, which has a companion bill with the same name that passed the House Judiciary Committee in June, may serve as a bellwether for Biden's antitrust agenda, one of the few major issues drawing bipartisan support.
Co-sponsors of the bill include prominent senators from both sides of aisle, such as Democrat Richard Durbin, who chairs the judiciary committee, and Republican Lindsey Graham.