The package of five bills, earlier reported by CNBC and other outlets, would make it harder for dominant platforms to complete mergers and prohibit them from owning businesses that present clear conflicts of interest. The legislation represents the most comprehensive effort to reform century-old antitrust laws in decades.
The bills will need to be voted favorably by the Judiciary Committee before making their way to the full House. They would also need to be approved by the Senate before they could be signed into law by the president.
The measures come in the wake of a lengthy investigation by the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust into the four companies that was completed last year.
The panel found at the time that Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google hold monopoly power and that antitrust laws should be revised to better deal with the unique challenges of competition in digital markets.
While Democrats and Republicans diverged on some of the solutions, they mostly agreed on the alleged competitive harm and that reform was necessary to reinvigorate the markets.
Two of the new bills introduced Friday could prove especially difficult for Amazon and Apple to navigate, given both operate marketplaces that include their own products or apps that compete with those of other sellers or developers that rely on their services — a risky set-up under the new legislation. Those bills comprise the Platform Anti-Monopoly Act (which seems to be renamed to the American Choice and Innovation Online Act), sponsored by House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust David Cicilline, D-R.I. and the Ending Platform Monopolies Act, sponsored by Vice Chair Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.
The bills, in their draft form, already inspired pushback from tech-funded groups.
“Adopting the European regulatory model would make it harder for American tech companies to innovate and compete both here and globally,” Geoffrey Manne, president and founder of the International Center for Law & Economics, said in a statement. The group has received funding from Google in the past.
Adam Kovacevich, CEO of center-left advocacy group Chamber of Progress, backed by Amazon, Facebook and Google, among others, published a Medium post earlier this week arguing that consumers would lose out on more than a dozen popular features should those two bills pass.
Under those proposals, Kovacevich argued, Amazon would not be able to offer Prime free shipping for some products and Google could not serve users the most popular results for businesses in their areas because of rules against discriminating on their platforms. He also wrote that Apple would not be allowed to pre-install its own “Find My” apps on its devices to help users locate lost items and Facebook couldn’t allow for easy cross-posting to Instagram, also due to the conflict of interest and non-discrimination provisions.
Despite tech pushback, the bipartisan support for the bill is a formidable signal to the industry. The sector has inspired rare collaboration between Democrats and Republicans, who both believe tech companies have come to hold too much power and worry about stagnating innovation.
Here’s an overview of the five bills announced on Friday:
- Ending Platform Monopolies Act: Sponsored by Jayapal, whose district includes Amazon’s headquarters of Seattle, and co-sponsored by Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Tex., this bill would make it unlawful for a platform with at least 50 million monthly active U.S. users and a market cap over $600 billion to own or operate a business that presents a clear conflict of interest. Unlawful conflicts would include anything that incentivizes a business to favor its own services over those of a competitors’ or disadvantage potential competitors that use the platform. Lawmakers have previously expressed concern that both Amazon and Apple, which run their own platforms for sellers and developers, respectively, could undermine competition due to a conflict of interest for their own competing products or apps.
- American Choice and Innovation Online Act: This bill, proposed by Cicilline and co-sponsored by Gooden, would prohibit dominant platforms from giving their own products and services advantages over those of competitors on the platform. It would also prohibit other types of discriminatory behavior by dominant platforms, like cutting off a competitor that uses the platform from services offered by the platform itself, and ban dominant platforms from using data collected on their services that isn’t public to others to fuel their own competing products, among several other prohibitions.
- Platform Competition and Opportunity Act: This proposal from Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., co-sponsored by subcommittee Ranking Member Ken Buck, R-Colo., would shift the burden of proof in merger cases to dominant platforms (defined with the same criteria as the previous bill) to prove that their acquisitions are in fact lawful, rather than the government having to prove they will lessen competition. The measure would likely substantially slow down acquisitions by dominant tech firms.
- Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act: This proposed bill from Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., and co-sponsored by Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, would mandate dominant platforms maintain certain standards of data portability and interoperability, making it easier for consumers to take their data with them to other platforms.
- Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act: This bill, introduced by Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., and co-sponsored by Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., appears to be companion legislation to the bipartisan bill of the same name in the Senate. The Senate version passed in that chamber on Tuesday as part of a larger $250 billion tech and manufacturing bill. The bill would raise the fees companies pay to notify the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice Antitrust Division of large mergers with the goal of raising money for those agencies.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.
Why Microsoft is releasing a new version of Windows
Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp., speaks during an event in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, March 27, 2014. Nadella unveiled Office software for Apple Inc.’s iPad, laying out how he plans to more aggressively push the companys programs onto rival platforms after Windows for mobile devices failed to catch on.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
In 2015, as Microsoft was preparing to release its Windows 10 operating system, a developer evangelist speaking at a technical session during a company event dropped an eyebrow-raising statement. “Windows 10 is the last version of Windows,” he said. But last week, Microsoft announced an online event to reveal “the next generation of Windows.”
Six years after the remarks, the world’s second most valuable public company has good reason to change direction. While Microsoft has diversified its business in the past three decades, Windows definitely still matters to the company’s identity and its finances. The corporate logo is still a window.
Here are nine possible justifications for Microsoft’s decision to roll out a major update, which some suspect could be called Windows 11, instead of just another twice-per-year enhancement to Windows 10:
- It’s good for business. Shipping new versions of big products such as Windows has in the past led to increases in Microsoft’s revenue growth rate, the company has said. That has come about in part as a result of people buying PCs with Microsoft software pre-installed by manufacturers. Historically, Windows has had a higher operating margin than the whole of Microsoft, and keeping Windows growing can make the company more profitable.
- Tough comps. The coronavirus benefited PC makers, and Microsoft in turn, as people rushed to buy computers to work and take classes at home. Technology industry research company Gartner estimated that PC shipments in 2020 grew faster than they had in a decade. That lifted growth rates for Windows license revenue tied to consumer PCs. As a result, Microsoft could stand to release Windows updates that entice people to buy new machines, so that comparing results against the pandemic computer crush doesn’t make for weak presentations to investors.
- The Google threat. The threat from Google’s Chrome OS has arguably never been bigger, as people sprang for low-cost Chromebook laptops running the Google operating system instead of more traditional Windows or Apple macOS computers. According to Gartner, computer makers shipped 11.7 million Chromebooks in 2020. That’s still small compared with the 79.4 million shipments of PCs, but Chromebooks grew 200% while PCs grew about 11%. The challenge facing Microsoft is to entice people to return.
- The Apple threat. Apple has posed a threat to the Windows ecosystem by introducing Mac computers that run its own Arm-based M1 chips, which boast more impressive battery life than Intel-based PCs. Microsoft and other PC makers have come out with Arm-based Windows 10 computers, but software compatibility issues have made the machines hard for reviewers to recommend. Microsoft could stand to improve that situation. “If Microsoft and the PC OEM ecosystem is able to offer a nearly-identical user experience across Windows on x86 and Windows on Arm for the fat tail of productivity applications that really matter for users, plus longer battery life, performance per watt, and 5G (via Qualcomm) approaching that of the M1, we think it would be a big winner for Windows,” Rosenblatt Securities analyst John McPeake, who has a buy rating on Microsoft stock, wrote in a note distributed to analysts on Thursday.
- Boosting Surface. It’s not nearly as big as Windows, or other Microsoft franchises such as Azure and Office, but Microsoft still sells its own line of Surface PCs that could stand to look more intriguing on shelves. Surface revenue grew more than 30% in the second and third quarters of 2020, but that’s still far from Chromebook-style growth. A reinvigorated Windows might make consumers give a second look to the Surface Pro convertible tablet, whose basic hardware design hasn’t changed all that much since its 2012 debut.
- Getting older. By pumping out two Windows 10 updates per year, Microsoft is making sure the operating system is staying fresh. It’s still almost 6 years old, which means it’s been around longer than any of its predecessors.
- Enhancing the brand. A fresh new Windows could help with the company’s overall perception. Windows 10 is the world’s most popular operating system, with over 1.3 billion devices using it. If the company can persuade users that the operating system is evolving, they might feel that innovation at the company is alive and well, and that might make them more willing to pay for other Microsoft products, such as Office productivity software subscriptions.
- Developers. If Windows gets revamped, software developers might want to bring their software to the operating system to capitalize on renewed public attention. “Windows, of course, succeeded in large part because developers chose to build their applications for Windows,” Chris Capossela, Microsoft’s chief marketing officer, said during a conversation with Evercore analyst Kirk Materne on Monday. The company could stand to get more hot properties into its app store for Windows. If people spend more time in the Store, they might also spend more money in the Store.
- The pursuit of perfection. There is still room to improve parts of Windows 10, which irritates some users with product promotions and alerts about software updates. “Our aspiration with Windows 10 is to move people from needing to choosing to loving Windows,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told analysts on a conference call days before the company released the operating system in 2015. A documentation page on Microsoft’s website says that “Windows 10 has a much higher Net Promoter score than Windows 7.” That means users are more likely to recommend Windows 10 to friends or colleagues. It’s a positive development, but it doesn’t mean that Microsoft has achieved Nadella’s Windows nirvana.
Royal Caribbean cruises to sail despite Covid cases on Celebrity ship
In an aerial view, Explorer of the Seas (front), a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, along with other cruise ships are docked at Port Miami as the cruise line industry waits to begin operations again on May 26, 2021
Joe Raedle | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Royal Caribbean Cruises said Friday it isn’t changing its sailing plans this summer, despite the cruise operator reporting two positive Covid-19 cases aboard its Celebrity Millennium cruise ship on Thursday.
The two guests who tested positive during end-of-cruise testing were asymptomatic and were placed in isolation. On Friday, Royal Caribbean announced that all those who were in close contact with the two guests tested negative for the virus.
The discovery of the cases is an early test of whether the cruise operator’s safety protocols are effective in detecting the virus aboard the ship.
The Celebrity Millennium was one of the first cruises in North America to start sailing last week after being docked for over a year. The company’s first sailing out of a port in the U.S. will be the Celebrity Edge, which departs June 26 out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The ship has a fully vaccinated crew and all guests over the age of 16 are required to show proof of vaccination and a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours before sailing. There was also routine testing throughout the week-long cruise at every port.
The ship will dock at a port in St. Martins on Saturday.
The company’s stock was down less than 1% on Friday. It has risen 20% this year giving it a market cap of nearly $23 billion.
A passenger aboard the ship told CNBC that the mood aboard the ship had not changed and normal activities have continued.
The cruise industry has been among the last sectors to resume operations since the pandemic. There had been several high-profile outbreaks aboard cruise ships last year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has allowed the ships to resume sailing this year, after placing very strict safety protocols and requirements to prevent the spread of the virus.
—CNBC’s Seema Mody contributed to this report.
Who will win the tournament?
France’s forward Kylian Mbappe looks on during the friendly football match between France and Bulgaria at Stade De France in Saint-Denis, on the outskirts of Paris on June 8, 2021, ahead of the UEFA EURO 2020 European Championships.
FRANCK FIFE | AFP | Getty Images
Euro 2020 is finally here, but who will win the tournament? Sky Sports football writers give their verdicts…
Ben Grounds: Format favours Azzurri
The path could become clear for England should they generate momentum heading into a semi-final at Wembley in front of their supporters, but a lot of work will be needed before then. The circumstances have to some degree conspired against Southgate, with a host of players facing a race against time to declare themselves fit. Another valiant quarter-final exit would represent par.
The pressure is again on this golden generation of Belgium to deliver while Didier Deschamps has addressed the one slight weakness in his France squad by recalling Karim Benzema, who will provide an upgrade on Olivier Giroud as a focal point.
But I’m tipping Italy as surprise winners. I watched Roberto Mancini’s side dismantle Czech Republic at the weekend, and the way in which they approached the warm-up game was in stark contrast to how England’s two friendlies in Middlesbrough played out.
This is the best-looking Azzurri side in years, arriving off the back of a perfect qualification campaign, and the format favours them. They will win Group A having played all three games in Rome, and then face the third-placed team in Group C – the so-called weakest group involving the Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia – for a place in the quarters.
Gerard Brand: Portugal to repeat 2016 heroics
France are rightly favourites, but I fancy Portugal to continue their impressive record at European Championships, without the need to stink their way through the four weeks to quite the same degree as five years ago.
At both ends, this side is far stronger than the 2016 winners, who won just one of their seven games in 90 minutes.
Manchester City trio Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva have had fine seasons, as have Bruno Fernandes across Manchester, and Diogo Jota in fits and starts in his debut year with Liverpool.
They have depth in midfield; Danilo Pereira and William Carvalho can offer protection at the base, and Wolves pair Ruben Neves (20 caps) and Joao Moutinho (130 caps) are pass-masters at opposite ends of their careers. That midfield is flanked by quality at full-back by Cancelo and Dortmund’s Raphael Guerreiro, who registered 11 assists in 25 Bundesliga starts last season.
Cristiano Ronaldo, now 36, still netted 36 goals in 44 games for Juventus last season and suits tournament football, and beyond the household names, Portugal have promising youth in Pedro Goncalves, Joao Felix and Nuno Mendes.
The last eight major tournament winners have possessed extraordinarily tight defences, on average conceding 3.5 goals and keeping clean sheets in around half of their games. The signs are positive for Fernando Santos’ side, who have conceded just 12 goals in their last 20 games, registering 11 clean sheets.
Granted, Group F is daunting alongside Germany, France and Hungary, perhaps justifying Portugal’s rather long odds. But this side are set up to soak and pounce, and are more than happy to give up possession. In fact, in each of their last eight wins at tournament level – including the 2019 Nations League win – they’ve had less possession than the opposition.
Oliver Yew: Italy’s resurgence can continue
Euro 2020 promises to be an extremely competitive tournament, and that’s an extremely exciting prospect for all football fans!
It will be hard for many to look past France. “They are not the favourites, they are the super favourite,” said former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and it’s difficult to argue when you look at the squad the 2018 World Cup winners possess.
England also have plenty of attacking potency and have their admirers, while Belgium and Portugal also have superb squads and you can just never write off Germany. However, I like the chances of Italy, who have recovered in fine style from failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Under the guidance of Roberto Mancini, Italy enjoyed a 100 per cent record of 10 wins from 10 qualifying group matches for Euro 2020, scoring 37 goals and conceding just four. They are also unbeaten in their last 27 matches.
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They have an extremely strong squad which boasts an excellent blend of youth and experience, something which is crucial when it comes to major tournaments. Defensively solid, as with most Italian sides, they will also want to dictate the pace of their games and with the Marco Verratti, Jorginho and Nicolo Barella in the middle of the park, they will certainly be a tough nut to crack.
The Euros will certainly be the acid test of Italy’s resurgence and, but with three games at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome in Group A and what looks like a decent route to the quarter-finals, they look to have a decent chance of lifting the trophy at Wembley on July 11.
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal in action during the international friendly football match between Portugal and Israel, at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, on June 9, 2021, ahead of the UEFA EURO 2020 European Championship.
NurPhoto | NurPhoto | Getty Images
Nick Wright: France to power home
I struggle to see past France. They’ve been handed a tough draw, of course, pitting them against Germany, Portugal and Hungary in Group F, but everything else is in their favour.
It is only three years since Didier Deschamps steered them to World Cup glory, and while the outcome was ultimately disappointing at the Euros two years before that, it should not be forgotten that they reached the final then too.
That tournament pedigree is invaluable and what’s most worrying for their rivals is that this squad, while replete with World Cup winners such as N’Golo Kante, Raphael Varane and Paul Pogba, actually looks even stronger than the one that triumphed in Russia.
That’s largely thanks to the return of Karim Benzema, back in the frame after a five-year hiatus to provide a world-class focal point up front, but he is not the only exciting inclusion.
Kingsley Coman is back and so is Adrien Rabiot, while Wissam Ben Yedder and Marcus Thuram add yet more quality to a frightening attack that already includes Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele. The squad depth is such that even their second-choice XI would have a chance of going all the way.
Concerns that Benzema’s return could upset the balance in the camp have been overplayed, in my opinion, and even if the Real Madrid man doesn’t hit the ground running on his return, Olivier Giroud is still more than capable of delivering in big games. They are the side to be feared and I can’t see anyone stopping them.
Richard Morgan: Football’s finally coming home
History shows how home advantage can propel teams deep into their own tournaments and playing in front of even a reduced number of their supporters should provide England with the catalyst to finally end their 55-year wait for a major international trophy this summer.
True, Gareth Southgate’s team will still have to navigate at least one knockout game outside the capital should they progress as Group D winners, but either way, no one will fancy facing England at fortress Wembley.
This is an England side with all the ingredients to go one better than the semi-final appearance in their last tournament at Russia 2018 and who would bet against them once in the final, at the home of football, whoever they were facing?
Do not forget the core of the squad who surprised many by nearly making the World Cup final three years ago are still around, only more experienced, while Southgate can also now call upon a crop of Europe’s most exciting and talented young forwards to complement them.
And should the England manager get key players like Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson fit for the knockout phase, then expect the Three Lions to go from strength to strength as the tournament progresses.
But if football really is coming home this summer, then prepare for some penalty shoot-out drama along the way folks…!
Peter Smith: All the pieces in place for Italy to bounce back with a bang
France are rightly favourites with their quality-packed squad looking to back up their World Cup win, while Belgium will be a real threat with Romelu Lukaku up front, and we should never write of Germany, with Joachim Low restoring experienced stars to his squad as they look to put their Russia 2018 debacle behind them.
But Italy, who failed to qualify for that tournament, are revived and have real momentum under Roberto Mancini.
The former Man City boss has fostered both team spirit and belief among the Azzurri fans, with Italy unbeaten in 27 games going into the Euros, having won their last eight on the spin.
A highly-rated keeper, experienced centre-backs, skilful midfielders and, in Lorenzo Insigne and Ciro Immobile, goal-rich attackers: Italy have all the ingredients and a favourable draw.
Charlotte Marsh: France’s depth simply incredible
France will be made to work at Euro 2020, drawn against Germany, Portugal and Hungary in the ‘Group of Death’. But their mind-boggling depth makes them not just Group F favourites, but my pick for the tournament.
Their 26-man squad is packed full of serial winners at club and country level. N’Golo Kante, Olivier Giroud and Kurt Zouma come into the tournament as freshly-crowned Champions League victors, four of the squad won another Bundesliga title with Bayern Munich while Thomas Lemar helped Atletico Madrid to the La Liga title.
This is before we even touch on players from Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris-Saint Germain, who all struggled in a truncated season. Kylian Mbappe remains one of Europe’s best young players, but all eyes will be on the returning Karim Benzema.
His form for Real Madrid this season made him impossible to ignore, having not featured for France in over five years. He was La Liga’s joint-second top scorer, scoring 23 goals in 34 goals, and registered nine assists – level with Golden Boot winner Lionel Messi.
But the fact of the matter is, whichever 11 players Didier Deschamps starts in France’s opening group game against Germany on June 15, there will be a further 15 players on the bench who will also be a force to be reckoned with.
After disappointment in the final on home soil at Euro 2016, France will be looking to go one better this time around – beating Group F rivals and reigning champions Portugal along the way – and I wouldn’t bet against them.
David Ramos – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images
Ron Walker: France to earn 2016 revenge
I’ve taken the fool-proof route of ranking the outcome of each group – including best third-placed teams – in a tournament predictor to work out their respective routes to the final.
While there’s good news for Group D’s second-placed side England, who play Poland in the last-16, France then stand in their way – and unfortunately, they sweep past the Three Lions on their way to adding the European Championship trophy to their World Cup from 2018, completing the double just as they did at Euro 2000 after France ’98.
Looking at the teams on paper, Les Bleus have got to be in there. They know how to win tournaments. Fourteen of the 23 who went to Russia are here, and one of those who wasn’t, Karim Benzema, returns to the fold on the back of a 30-goal season for Real Madrid.
France’s strength in depth is intimidating in itself and many of their squad players would walk into other countries’ first XIs.
Even in a group containing Portugal and Germany, who have both tasted international success in the past decade, France should triumph and with one of Belgium or Italy probably their only real tough test en route to the final if they do, the only thing stopping them lifting the trophy is themselves.
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