Just days after former President Donald Trump announced his class-action lawsuits against Facebook, Twitter, and Google, President Joe Biden is signing a new executive order that will, in part, crack down on anti-competitive practices in Big Tech and several other business categories.
Biden's wide-ranging order includes 72 actions and recommendations and will involve more than a dozen federal agencies while also tackling practices in labor and other sectors, reports CNBC.
According to a fact sheet released by the White House Friday morning, the order will encourage the Federal Communications Commission to restore net neutrality rules that the agency stopped under Trump in 2018.
The order also:
- Bans excessive early termination fees for internet services and requires clear disclosure of plan costs to facilitate comparison shopping
- Ends landlord exclusivity arrangements with internet companies.
- Announces an administration policy of greater scrutiny of mergers
- Asks the FTC to establish rules on surveillance and the accumulation of data.
- Encourages the FTC to establish rules barring unfair methods of competition on internet marketplaces.
- Encourages the FTC to issue rules against anti-competitive restrictions on using independent repair shops or doing DIY repairs of your own devices and equipment.
Trump, in his lawsuits against the nation's largest social media providers, is calling for punitive damages, to have his and other social media profiles restored that were blocked by the tech giants, and for a declaration that Section 230, which grants companies immunity from being considered as publishers, is unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, Biden's wide-reaching executive order also targets more than Big Tech and calls for halts to anti-competitive practices in several other sectors, including:
- Lowering prescription drug prices by supporting state and tribal efforts to import cheaper drugs from Canada.
- Allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter.
- The establishment of a White House Competition Council to lead federal responses to large corporations’ growing economic power.
- Making it easier for people to change jobs and help raise wages by banning or limiting non-compete agreements occupational licensing requirements that impeding economic mobility.
- Increasing opportunities for small businesses by directing all federal agencies to promote greater competition through procurement and spending decisions.
"The impulse for this executive order is really around where can we encourage greater competition across the board," White House chief economic advisor Brian Deese told CNBC's Ylan Mui.
The tech giants’ tightened grip has led to a decline in innovation, Deese told Mui, creating significant "problems for users in terms of privacy and security" and "problems for small businesses in terms of entering markets."
He added that Biden's sweeping order, which he plans to sign at 1:30 p.m. Friday, is "not just about monopolies, but it’s about consolidation more generally and the lack of competition when you have a limited set of market players."
Deese further noted that research suggests wages are lower in concentrated markets being dominated by just a few firms.
Biden's order is coming out a few weeks after the House Judiciary Committee voted to advance six antitrust bills aiming to revitalize tech sector competition.
Those bills, if they become law, will make it harder for firms to complete mergers, banning some common business models. They have faced bipartisan opposition from lawmakers who say the measures either don't go far enough or that unintended side effects could occur.
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