Biden signs new order cracking down on Big Tech

Biden signs new order cracking down on Big Tech By A Robin Rajkumar - July 10, 2021

Joe Biden

President Joe Biden has signed an executive order aimed at cracking down on big tech firms and promoting competition.

The move points to Mr Biden's desire for tougher scrutiny of Big Tech, which the administration has accused of "undermining competition".

"Capitalism without competition isn't capitalism. It's exploitation," Mr Biden said at Friday's signing event.

The order includes 72 actions and recommendations involving ten agencies.

It suggests that problems have arisen because of large tech firms collecting too much personal information, buying up potential competitors and competing unfairly with small businesses.

Several recommendations it sets out include:

• Greater scrutiny of mergers in the tech sector

• New rules to be set out by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on data collection

• Barring unfair methods of competition on internet marketplaces.

The Biden administration is also targeting a number of other sectors with the order.

It encourages other government agencies to take action to improve competition across healthcare, travel and agriculture.

Once fully implemented, it would allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter, for example, as well as the ban of early exit fees from internet contracts. It also intends to make it easier for consumers to claim refunds from airlines.

"For decades, corporate consolidation has been accelerating," the fact sheet released by the White House says, describing the order as "a whole-of-government effort to promote competition in the American economy".

Mr Biden said that the order seeks to limit the use of "non-compete agreements" as a condition of getting a job, which he claimed can make it harder for people to change jobs and therefore limits wages.

The executive order alone, however, does not mean these recommendations will come into force immediately.

The government agencies responsible will need to implement the changes, while some elements could be subject to court challenges.

Built on a 'flawed belief'

The US Chamber of Commerce criticised the order, saying it was "built on the flawed belief that our economy is over-concentrated, stagnant and fails to generate private investment needed to spur innovation".

Neil Bradley, the Chamber's executive vice president and chief policy officer, said: "Our economy needs both large and small businesses to thrive - not centralised government dictates.

"In many industries, size and scale are important not only to compete, but also to justify massive levels of investment," he added.

It comes weeks after the House Judiciary Committee also voted to approve a series anti-trust bills, which could eventually become law and force big tech firms to transform or even break up their businesses.

Some tech firms have also been hit with various lawsuits claiming they have violated competition law and allege anti-competitive behaviour.

By A Robin Rajkumar - July 10, 2021

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