U.S. Senate Panel Approves Tech Antitrust Bill, Some Chinese Companies May Be Affected

The United States Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted 16-6 in favor of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act. Bloomberg had previously reported on Wednesday that the antitrust law may affect ByteDance and Tencent, two major Chinese technology companies.

Previously, the proposed antitrust law was aimed at platform companies with a market value of more than $550 billion. According to this standard, U.S. tech giants such as Apple and Amazon are all included. However, these tech giants warned that the bill would give competitors of the U.S. enterprises an opportunity and even threaten the privacy of users. Now, this bill considers further broadening the standards of platforms that should be covered. In addition to their market value, platforms with more than 1 billion monthly active users or global annual net sales of $550 billion will be governed by the anti-monopoly law.

According to this new standard, TikTok, which is owned by ByteDance, and the international version of WeChat owned by Tencent will be included in the jurisdiction.

In June 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives published five draft versions of a new anti-monopoly law. In the same month, the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives tried its best to pass four of them. The American Innovation and Choice Online Act is the core content, which aims to prohibit large platforms from engaging in behavior that is beneficial to their own products or services while unfavorable to other commercial users. It also aims to prohibit discrimination against commercial users in similar conditions, such as by cutting off competitors from using services provided by their platforms, and prohibiting commercial users from leveraging data collected in their services that are not made public to encourage its own products and services.

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At that time, these bills were called the “biggest legislative efforts” of the congressional subcommittee against a few large technology companies so far. If the bills are passed in both the Senate and House of Representatives, the four major technology giants, namely Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, will have to completely change their business practices, making it more difficult to acquire other firms and maybe even causing a split.

On Tuesday, Microsoft announced that it would spend $68.7 billion to acquire game giant Activision Blizzard. For the U.S. antitrust agencies vowing to crack down on the market power of big technology companies, Microsoft’s biggest deal in history is likely to become a “focus” of them.