“A small group of woke mega-corporations control the products Americans can buy, the information Americans can receive, and the speech Americans can engage in,” Hawley said in a statement announcing the proposal.
“These monopoly powers control our speech, our economy, our country, and their control has only grown because Washington has aided and abetted their quest for endless power.
“While Big Tech, Big Banks, Big Telecom, and Big Pharma gobbled up more companies and more market share, they gobbled up our freedom and competition.
“American consumers and workers have paid the price. Woke corporations want to run this country and Washington is happy to let them. It’s time to bust them up and restore competition.”
Hawley’s “Trust-Busting for the Twenty-First Century Act” covers the following provisions, according to the statement:
Halt all mergers and acquisitions by companies with market capitalization surpassing $100 billion. This provision would bar Google’s recent acquisition of the Waze travel app that was then incorporated into the tech giant’s Maps app.
Empower the Federal Trade Commission to designate “dominant digital firms” utilizing powerful market power in particular internet markets, which would be prohibited from buying out possible competitors. This provision would prohibit Facebook from buying digital startups that could become social media rivals.
Dominant digital firms would be banned from giving priority in search results to favored sites without explicitly disclosing the practice. As a consequence, Google would have to confess that it gives priority in its search results to its own reviews over those of Yelp.
Reform the Sherman and Clayton acts to allow enforcement officials to use direct evidence of anticompetitive conduct to support an antitrust claim. Doing so will allow enforcers more efficiently to pursue the breakup of powerful firms and prevent antitrust cases from devolving into clashes between economists.
Replace the outdated, numerically focused standard for assessing antitrust cases, which enables giant conglomerates to escape examination by focusing on short-term considerations, with a standard emphasizing the protection of competition in the United States.
Clarify that “vertical” mergers are not immune from antitrust scrutiny.
Drastically raise antitrust penalties by ordering companies that lose federal antitrust suits to forfeit all their profits resulting from monopolistic conduct.
The Hawley proposal drew applause from Internet Accountability Project (IAP) Founder and President Mike Davis.
“Senator Hawley’s ‘Trust Busting for The Twenty-First Century Act’ is the type of bold leadership and smart legislation this country so desperately needs,” Davis announced in a statement.
Though others expressed doubts about expanding the power of the federal government over private business enterprises.
“I agree with Sen. Hawley’s heartburn with many of the business decisions of Google, Facebook, and Twitter, yet I believe that busting up these companies flies in the face of traditional free-market conservatism,” Brian Darling stated.