US to announce new executive order to control big tech firms

The White House on Friday announced an executive order aimed at cracking down on anticompetitive practices in Big Tech, labor and numerous other sectors, CNBC’s Ylan Mui reported.
US president Joe Biden
The executive order, which includes 72 actions and recommendations that involve a dozen federal agencies, is intended to re-shape the thinking around corporate consolidation and antitrust laws.

Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy

“The impulse for this executive order is around where can we encourage greater competition across the board,” White House chief economic advisor Brian Deese said.

Through its tech-related actions, President Joe Biden’s order aims to make the case that the biggest companies in the sector are wielding their power to box out smaller competitors and exploit consumers’ personal information.

The order will call for regulators to enact reforms such as increasing their scrutiny of tech mergers and putting more focus on moves like “killer acquisitions,” in which firms acquire smaller brands to take them out of the market.

Those platforms have “created significant problems,” Deese said. That includes “problems for users in terms of privacy and security” and “problems for small businesses in terms of entering markets,” he said.

The order will be unveiled just a few weeks after the House Judiciary Committee voted to advance six antitrust bills aimed at revitalizing competition in the tech sector.

The bills, which would make it harder for dominant firms to complete mergers and outlaw certain common business models for such firms, have faced significant bipartisan pushback from those concerned that they don’t go far enough or will have unintended side effects.

In late June, a judge threw out complaints from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a group of state attorneys general alleging Facebook has illegally maintained monopoly power.

Biden’s executive order also calls on the FTC to craft new rules on Big Tech’s data collection and user surveillance practices, and asks the agency to prohibit certain unfair methods of competition on internet marketplaces.

The order could provide some relief to small and medium-sized businesses that have complained of the allegedly crippling grip of tech firms such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google over digital markets.

Biden’s executive order doesn’t impose its will on Big Tech companies unilaterally, and instead calls on the independent FTC to take action.