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It’s time for a fair and open internet that puts consumers first

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act holds Big Tech firms accountable for their harmful self-dealing

We applaud today’s introduction of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act. We thank Chair Klobuchar and Senator Grassley for the thoughtful crafting of this legislation. If passed into law, the proposal would strengthen and expand the tools at the government’s disposal to restore competitiveness in the online market and promote an open and pluralistic web for consumers. 

In effect, the legislation would make it illegal for large technology platforms to unfairly advantage their own products with no efficiency justification. It is unsurprising but sad that Google has resorted to propagating misinformation about the implications of the bill’s passage, suggesting it would “break” Google Maps. On the contrary, products like Google Maps would be dramatically improved as Google would no longer be legally allowed to self-deal and promote its inferior local business content over an entire ecosystem of higher quality information. This video lays out how such interoperability would work in practice:

For over a decade, we have advocated for regulators to rein in Google’s egregious self-dealing that has harmed consumers, competition and the internet, and we’re encouraged that the Senate is taking long overdue action.

In September of 2011(!), the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee held a hearing on Google’s anticompetitive conduct where Yelp’s CEO and co-founder Jeremy Stoppelman testified to its harms. That testimony is worth revisiting. 

(Yelp was sounding the alarm about the dangers of self-preferencing before it was cool.)

As a result of the FTC failing to take meaningful action in its 2011-2013 investigation of Google, the anticompetitive market conditions Jeremy described in his testimony have only worsened. 

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act has broad support across the political spectrum, and it comes at a time when multiple policy making and enforcement bodies are prosecuting or working to reform self-dealing by Big Tech firms like Google. It is imperative this legislation be considered swiftly, and we further call upon Speaker Pelosi to bring the counterpart of this legislation to a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives where we would expect it to garner similar bipartisan support.

Big Tech firms like Google have been allowed to rig the market against consumers’ interests for far too long. It’s time for a fair and open internet that puts consumers first, and restores competition in the market.