business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal that the US House of Representatives has five proposals on the table that would, if implemented, "curb the market power of large online platforms by restricting them from certain lines of business and curtailing their ability to buy competitors."  At least at the moment, the proposals seem to have bipartisan support, and similar conversations seem to be taking place in the US Senate.

According to the story, the five draft House bills "would make it unlawful for operators of large platforms to control a business that creates an irreconcilable conflict of interest, to advantage their own products or services over a competitor, and to acquire companies that pose current or potential competitive threats.

"Another bill targets the budgets of antitrust enforcement agencies, while a fifth requires platforms to make their services interoperable with those of other companies."

KC's View:

While antitrust legislation and distrust of the tech sector seem to have accomplished the impossible task of creating bipartisanship, I'm not sure that it is entirely fair to hold tech companies to different standards than other sectors.

For example, there are an enormous number of retailers that give their own private label products preferential treatment compared to equivalent national brands;  would that also be outlawed by legislation?

In addition, there are startup companies that, while they exist to create a challenge to bigger business, are counting on the fact that at some point they'll be acquired;  this legislation could cut out that possibility, and cut reduce innovation.

I'm in favor of intelligent and nuanced antitrust enforcement, but in this case I think the adjectives are as important as the nouns.