Today, Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) introduced the “Digital Platform Commission Act.” The bill would create an independent agency to serve as a digital regulator for the technology sector in order to enhance competition, protect consumers, and promote civic discourse and democracy. The bill follows Sen. Michael Bennet’s (D-CO) nearly identical bill of the same name.
The bill draws on regulatory concepts first articulated by Public Knowledge Senior Vice President Harold Feld in his 2019 book, “The Case for the Digital Platform Act,” as well as advocacy by Public Knowledge President and CEO Chris Lewis, Public Knowledge Policy Counsel Alex Petros, Competition Policy Director Charlotte Slaiman, and former Public Knowledge President Gene Kimmelman. Public Knowledge commends Rep. Welch for creating a digital regulator to be the “cop on the beat” to serve the public interest and foster a healthier, more competitive digital marketplace.
The following can be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge:
“Since the 19th century, as our economy transitioned through the industrial revolution to the digital age, Congress has recognized the need to create specialized, expert sector-specific regulators to protect consumers by ensuring transparency and accountability. The ‘Digital Platform Commission Act’ introduced today by Rep. Welch follows in this tradition and is long overdue. The new Digital Platform Commission would have the power to protect consumers from deceptive practices such as ‘dark patterns,’ examine algorithms for evidence of self-preferencing or unfair practices, and designate significantly important platforms for additional oversight. This is the expert ‘cop on the beat’ we need.
“Four years ago, Public Knowledge highlighted the increasing importance of digital platforms to our economy, our daily lives, and even our democracy itself and called for rules of the road to protect consumers and promote competition. In 2019, we published a blueprint for an agency that would have the expertise and authority to rein in Big Tech and protect the public interest. Since then, we have seen scandal after scandal highlighting how the unique nature of digital platforms allows these unsupervised tech giants to deceive consumers in an ever increasing number of ways, manipulate users, and wield their power to unfairly crush potential competitors. But while the European Union and other countries have acted to address the proliferating consumer harms, the United States has remained a step behind. With this bill, we can finally step forward.”
View our book, “The Case for the Digital Platform Act,” to learn more about why we need a digital regulator, as well as our latest paper, “A Lesson From the Landmark AT&T Breakup: Both a Sector-specific Regulator and Antitrust Enforcers Were Needed,” to learn how both a sector-specific regulator and antitrust can work synergistically to rein in Big Tech.
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