A US lawmaker has introduced a bill that would permanently bar all big tech companies from mergers and acquisitions.
Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican who has been a vocal critic of big tech companies for alleged censorship, said his bill would affect all companies with a market value of over $100 billion (£72bn).
That would include the US’ biggest tech companies, such as Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft, as well as large firms in virtually every sector, including banking, healthcare, retail and media.
He told Reuters the bill was “significantly tougher” than one introduced by Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar in February.
While Hawley’s proposal may have difficulty attracting broad support from either Republicans or Democrats, it reflects a climate that is increasingly favouring tougher controls on large tech companies.
The bill includes other features aimed at tightening regulation, such as lowering the threshold for prosecution under existing federal antitrust laws.
It would also require companies that lose federal antitrust lawsuits to “forfeit all their profits resulting from monopolistic conduct”, and would give the Federal Trade Commission the power to designate and regulate “dominant digital firms” in various online markets.
The latter provision is similar to proposals to regulate dominant digital “gatekeepers” that are currently being considered in the EU.
“This country and this government shouldn’t be run by a few mega-corporations,” Hawley told Axios.
He said that while the Republican Party is associated with big business, it was the Republicans who, under Teddy Roosevelt, first promoted the concept of “trust-busting”.
Hawley’s bill is called the “Trust-Busting for the Twenty-First Century Act”.
Republican senator Marco Rubio recently voiced his support for a failed union vote at an Amazon warehouse, another indicator of the bipartisan alignment of big tech companies’ critics.
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