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Sen. Amy Klobuchar Plans Antitrust Bill Targeting Tech Industry

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the incoming head of the Senate antitrust subcommittee, is planning to introduce a bill to bolster competition laws and antitrust enforcement, The Hill reported on Thursday (Feb. 4).

Klobuchar’s proposed Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act outlines Democrats’ plan for tackling monopoly issues across industries. The first proposal intends to make anticompetitive mergers harder by revising the Clayton Act.

The proposed legislation would also “shift the burden to parties seeking a merger to prove that they would not create a risk of lessening competition,” according to the article. The legislation lists which types of merger categories are the riskiest in terms of competition law, including acquisitions of “disruptive” companies by rivals and “mega-mergers” worth in excess of $5 billion.

The bill will also move to “increase the effectiveness” of the Justice Department’s antitrust division and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The legislation would increase each group’s annual budget by $300 million and give them the ability to impose civil fines.

Klobuchar told The Wall Street Journal that she hopes Democrats’ control of the Senate will make it easier to get the bill passed. “We have an increasing monopoly problem, really headlined by what is happening with tech” but also extending across the economy, she said. “Our laws have to be as sophisticated as those that are messing around with competition.”

There has already been extensive bipartisan scrutiny regarding acquisitions by Facebook and Google, which deny accusations of anti-competitive practices. The Biden administration is expected to continue antitrust lawsuits filed last year targeting those two companies.

Big Tech has warned against changes to antitrust laws. The software company trade group App Association told the Senate antitrust panel in 2020 that restricting bigger companies could ultimately penalize smaller players. Klobuchar’s bill is expected to get pushback from lobbyists who have spent millions fighting new legislation. 

In December, attorneys general from several states and the FTC brought an antitrust suit against Facebook. A separate lawsuit was already in place against Google.

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