By Natalie DeCoste

Big Tech companies have lost the first round of their fight to stop the new package of antitrust bills as the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee approved six of them.

Three of the bills are aimed at the Big Tech companies specifically. The bills were debated in the House Judiciary Committee starting Wednesday and into Thursday morning and overcame scrutiny from lawmakers to make it out of committee.

The bills before the committee were H.R. 3843, known as the “Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act of 2021”; H.R. 3460, the “State Antitrust Enforcement Venue Act of 2021”; H.R. 3849, the “Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching Act of 2021” or the “ACCESS Act of 2021”; H.R. 3826, the “Platform Competition and Opportunity Act of 2021”; H.R. 3816, the “American Choice and Innovation Online Act”; and H.R. 3825, the “Ending Platform Monopolies Act.”

Voting for the bills concluded Thursday, following a lengthy debate on Wednesday where five of the six bills were approved. Debate for the sixth bill began at 11 A.M. Thursday, a full 24 hours after the markup started, and was finally sent to the House floor in the early afternoon.

“At its core, this issue is fundamentally about whether or not we have an economy where businesses fighting for economic survival can actually succeed,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI).

The focal point of the six bills is H.R. 3816, the “American Choice and Innovation Online Act.” This bill, written by Rep. Cicilline, would prohibit the Big Tech companies from engaging in conduct that advantages their products or services, or disadvantages other business users, or discriminates among similarly situated business users.

In practice, this bill would stop Amazon from using third-party seller data to inform its product development or Apple from advertising its many subscriptions throughout its operating system.

far less controversial bill is H.R. 3843, which would increase the costs of fees associated with some mergers. The added fees would help raise more funding for the Federal Trade Commission, which helps regulate deals. Another less controversial bill is “the State Antitrust Enforcement Venue Act of 2021; H.R. 3460,” which would aid state attorneys general in procedural battles in antitrust court cases as it would allow them to keep the cases in their preferred venue.

Also passed on Wednesday was H.R. 3849, the “Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching Act of 2021” or the “ACESS Act of 2021.” The bill would mandate that the largest internet platforms make it easier for consumers to transport their data to other platforms allowing for interoperability.

The sixth bill, known as H.R. 3825, the “Ending Platform Monopolies Act,” passed Thursday. Should it become law, it would force large technology companies like Amazon that both operate a dominant platform and sell goods or services on it, to exit certain businesses. The bill, introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), aims at reining in major companies and spurring competition in digital markets. Rep. Jayapal said that the bill is based on previous antitrust actions like the AT&T breakup and the initial proposed breakup of Microsoft.

“It was strong antitrust regulation that created the space for the great renaissance of technology that later drove a lot of the U.S. economy. We don’t want innovation and competition to stop here; we want it to continue for many others,” said Rep. Jayapal.

The bills have generally received wide support from progressive lawmakers, but Democratic lawmakers from California have been the most hesitant to back these bills fully. They claim the bills go too far in regulating the state of California’s most prominent companies.

“We want to make sure that we don’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. These firms — high tech — are the reason California has a budget surplus, as opposed to a deficit, enabling the state of California to invest in public education, to help those affected by COVID, the middle class, those who are trying to get to the middle class,” said Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA).

The bills still have to pass the House before facing what is sure to be an epic battle in the Senate and ultimately landing in the White House.