Big Tech Nervous About ‘American Innovation and Choice Online Act’

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The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to deliberate on the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICO). CNBC reports how companies such as Apple and Google are fighting it. AICO is sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

American Innovation and Choice Online Act

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act would stop dominant tech platforms from favoring their own products over third-parties in their marketplaces, such as the App Store and Google Play store. It also stops companies from unfairly limiting third-party products to compete in marketplaces.

The bill would create a category of “covered platforms” based on criteria such as the number of U.S.-based monthly active users, or if it’s owned by an individual with United States net annual sales or a market capitalization greater” than US$550 billion. A company would be classified as a covered platform for seven years. Afterward, it can apply to have this label removed, and this will be at the choice of the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission.

Companies are attacking the bill, with Apple warning that it would increase the risk of security breaches for iPhone users. This is because the AICO could force the company to allow users to install apps from third-party sources, commonly referred to as “sideloading.”

Amazon says that the bill “would jeopardize our ability to allow small businesses to sell on Amazon. The bill would also make it difficult for us to guarantee one or two-day shipping for those small businesses’ products.”

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W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

Andrew: This bill reads like a study in the best of intentions paving the road to hell; although the intentions here are not above suspicion.  Item 4 under section 2 ‘unlawful conduct’ states that it is unlawful to  ‘materially restrict or impede a business user from accessing data generated on the covered platform by the activities of the business user, or through an interaction of a covered platform user with the business user’s products or services, such as by establishing contractual or technical restrictions that prevent the portability of the business user’s data by the business user to other systems… Read more »