May 6, 2021

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US Senator proposes bill to block big tech acquisitions

Republican Josh Hawley railed against monopolies in the tech industry and said there needs to be a ‘new trust busting agenda’.

A US Senator has presented a bill that proposes blocking big tech firms from acquiring other companies.

The sweeping bill from Republican Josh Hawley would prevent mergers and acquisitions by companies with a market cap over $100bn.

Under that remit, Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Salesforce to name just a few would be blocked from acquiring other companies. Twitter, with its current market cap of $57bn, would escape the rules.

Hawley introduced the Trust-Busting for the Twenty-First Century Act this week. While Hawley is a Republican and tried to block the certification of Biden’s election win, his criticisms of the power of big tech companies have had more in common with Elizabeth Warren than the colleagues in his party.

“Monopoly and liberty don’t go together. No corporation should be so big and so powerful that it can override the voice of the people. We need a new trust busting agenda,” the Missouri senator said on Twitter.

In a report from Axios, Hawley revealed that the bill would force companies that are found in violation of the rules to “forfeit all their profits resulting from monopolistic conduct” and it would give the Federal Trade Commission more powers to investigate large tech firm monopolies.

Hawley’s bill is the latest in a string of diatribes by US lawmakers against big tech companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon.

As it stands, the Republican’s bill is unlikely to get far in a Senate that is controlled by the Democrats. It does however fit into a broader narrative on each side of the aisle.

Democrat Senator Amy Klobuchar presented a bill of her own in February that also looked to curtail merger and acquisition activity.

Other lawmakers have floated proposals that would force the breakup of some big tech companies or divestment from some of their business units.

Last month, the chief executives of Facebook, Google and Twitter sat before another hearing at Congress to answer questions about misinformation and so-called ‘fake news’.