From Ben Thompson’s “The Cicilline Salvo” ($) posted Tuesday on Stratechery:
American Innovation and Choice Online Act: This bill, sponsored by Cicilline (D-RI) and co-sponsored by Lance Gooden (R-TX), bans covered platforms from giving an advantage to their own products, services, and lines of business over competitors; disadvantaging competing products, services, and lines of business; or discriminating between similarly situated business users. It further:
- Bars any restrictions on interoperability that do not similarly apply to the platform owner
- Explicitly bans tying (i.e. conditioning the use of one product on use of another)
- Bans the use of data about the activities of third-party businesses to improve the platform’s own product
- Forbids the platform from restricting the right of third-party businesses to use their own data generated on the platform
- Requires platform owners to allow users to uninstall pre-installed applications and change defaults
- Bans anti-steering provisions (i.e. Spotify being able to tell iOS users to subscribe online or link to the web)
- Restricts the platform owner from treating the platform’s own products differently in search or rankings
- Restricts the platform owner from controlling a business user’s pricing
- Restricts the platform owner from limiting a business user’s interoperability
- Bans retaliation by the platform owner against any business user that raises concerns with regulators
The bill does provide a privacy exception: actions that violate the above provisions can be legal if the platform owner can prove they were necessary to preserve user privacy while being narrowly tailored, non-discriminatory, and nonpretextual.
My take: Thompson does a good job in the rest of the piece to distinguish between the bills that have a chance and those (like Representative Representative Pramila Jayapal’s Ending Platform Monopolies Act) that don’t. He writes:
I suspect that Cicilline’s goal is to stake out the most extreme position — the Jayapal bill — with the goal of getting his own bill passed as a compromise… Certainly the tech industry would be right to push back against not only Jayapal’s bill but also Jeffries anti-acquisition bill; I explained in First, Do No Harm why a blanket ban on acquisitions would be so destructive to the Silicon Valley ecosystem and consumer welfare.