Without The Votes To Pass, Antitrust Bill Gets Delayed

from the it's-a-bad-bill dept

For the last few months we’ve been writing a lot about AICOA, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, being pushed for by Senator Amy Klobuchar. It’s an antitrust bill, but not an antitrust bill designed to fix the whole host of problems we have today with industrial consolidation and anticompetitive practices. No, it’s just a bill to target a few specific practices of a narrow slice of the tech industry. And, it only has bipartisan support (barely) for one reason, and one reason only: because Republicans believe that the vaguely worded law will be a tool they can use to batter companies for content moderation decisions they disagree with. This isn’t some conspiracy theory. This is literally what the Republicans themselves are saying. Out loud. Over and over again.

Klobuchar has had multiple chances to clarify the language in her bill to prevent this abuse. But she chose not to. The only changes she included were to make sure the bill really only targeted tech, by explicitly carving telcos and financial companies out of the bill.

For the last few months, cringe-inducingly called “hot antitrust summer” by supporters of this bill, we were told the bill needed to get a vote this summer. Chuck Schumer apparently promised a vote this summer. And, even John Oliver was coaxed into an unfortunately confused piece about the law encouraging his fans to urge Schumer to bring the law to a vote.

But, as Schumer himself has been explaining to party insiders, the bill doesn’t have the votes to pass. It appears that there are enough Senators who are reasonably concerned about the vague language of the bill being open to abuse that they won’t vote for it. And fixing that language would lose votes on the Republican side.

All summer long, Klobuchar has been insisting, without proof, that they did have the votes to pass it, and urging Schumer to bring it to the floor. However, she’s finally admitted that’s not going to happen, and that there will be no vote before the recess. She still appears hopeful that it will happen in the fall, but that may be an even harder lift with the midterms rapidly approaching.

There are plenty of good reasons to be concerned about the power of some of the largest tech companies. But this is not the bill to fix it. Just the fact that Republicans are openly and eagerly explaining how they’ll abuse this law should have made that clear to everyone who has good faith reasons for supporting this bill. It’s been frustrating how quickly some folks have decided they can bend on their overall principles just because they believe this bill has a chance of passing. There are some good things in this bill, but the bill has serious problems and not just the potential for abuse — rather it has a bunch of supporters gleefully telling you how they’re going to abuse it.

If the law won’t pass without the ability to abuse it, the law shouldn’t pass. Go back and write a better bill.

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Comments on “Without The Votes To Pass, Antitrust Bill Gets Delayed”

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3 Comments
Sad Sam says:

Public Knowledge is better then techdirt

It’s sites like dirt tech that are lying about this great anti trust bill. Why would EFF, Demand Progress and Public Knowledge want this bill to pass? You think we want an internet that will not run good? Call your Senator and tell them to bring s.2992 up for a vote. Google dollars can only take your lies so far dirt tech

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