Public Knowledge President and CEO Chris Lewis will testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights Tuesday, March 7 at 3:00 p.m. His testimony in the hearing on “Reining in Dominant Platforms: Restoring Competition to our Digital Markets” will urge Congress to work across the aisle to rein in Big Tech.
The testimony will also argue for pro-competition legislation; transparency; consumer protection laws and rules, including a comprehensive privacy law; and a sector-specific digital regulator equipped to solve some of the most pressing problems we experience online. As the testimony explains, a digital regulator can also improve the effectiveness of antitrust enforcement.
The following is an excerpt from the testimony:
“People are increasingly feeling like they have no power over – and yet are stuck with – tech giants online. Consumers don’t know or understand how they are being tracked and influenced. [B]usinesses… must accept that their products will be unfairly demoted in search results, their ability to communicate with their customers limited, and their competitively sensitive business information misused, in order to access consumers through the digital platforms that dominate the internet. On social media, women, people of color, and other marginalized groups face harassment that pushes us out of the conversation – and radicalization pipelines have offline consequences.
“Dominant digital platforms have great power in a distinct sector. These companies are embedded in so much of our lives that their power is not just economic. They control not only how we purchase products and services, but also our communications with each other, how we access news and information, and how we discuss politics and form opinions. Even consumers and businesses that would prefer not to use these services find that they cannot avoid dominant platforms. Their impact is so huge that inadvertent and small errors can pose serious consequences… even for our democracy. Their level of importance has surely risen to the level where they need sector-specific laws and rules setting guardrails for their conduct.
“Here’s [how we address] the variety of challenges posed by dominant digital platforms. First, the subject of this hearing: competition. We need sector-specific, pro-competition legislation to empower consumers and business users by incentivizing market entry and facilitating switching to new platforms. Second, we need transparency so that consumers and business users can make informed choices. Third, we need consumer protection laws and rules to address platform harms that won’t be improved by competition. The first and most important of these would be comprehensive privacy legislation like ADPPA. Lastly, these responsibilities should be housed in a new agency: an expert digital regulator.
“On both sides of the aisle, and on both sides of the Atlantic, there is a clear agreement that dominant digital platforms have become too powerful and must be reined in. The question remains: Can Congress meet the moment? Republicans and Democrats have a responsibility to come to the table and find a workable solution, because the American people cannot wait any longer.”
You may view the testimony.
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